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Task Force created to address the value of regional connectivity as debate to determine the next runway for the SE gathers momentum

A 15-strong independent Task Force* created to examine the current and future requirement for improved connectivity between the UK’s regions and the major hub/gateway airports short-listed by the Airports Commission is announced today, 1st December.  The Group comprises international and UK experts from across academia, the aviation industry and the UK’s nations and regions. 

As firm advocates for connectivity, the Group will make recommendations on what needs to be achieved and how it can be practically delivered (both before and after the new runway capacity is built), in time to inform the Airports Commission’s national consultation.   That document, launched on 11 November, formally closes on 3 February, 2015.    The National Connectivity Task Force will set out proposals optimised for local, regional and national economies across the UK with the objective that a ‘globally’ competitive airport system is accessible to all parts of the UK, including home nations and Crown Dependencies.  This would ensure that the UK regions are not forced to rely on hub airports located outside UK national boundaries for their global connectivity.

Task Force Chairman Lord John Shipley expressed confidence that the Task Force will come up with a number of important recommendations on how improved air links to London can contribute to national connectivity and regional economic growth, as he issued a call for evidence and ideas from those with a direct and indirect interest in the Task Force’s work.

Ideas invited on regional connectivity before 19th December, 2014

Emphasising the independence of the Task Force’s members, Lord Shipley announced that:

We are today issuing an invitation to all those with an interest in seeing the UK’s regions, home nations and Crown Dependencies better connected to London, the rest of the UK, European and wider global markets, to write to the Task Force via its website www.nationalconnectivitytaskforce.co.uk.  We are inviting ideas on how proposed air service improvements could be brought about and their value optimized; who they would benefit and which agencies should be made responsible for ensuring they are delivered and over what timescale.”

“Any submissions made to us on or before 19 December will be welcomed and carefully considered,” he added.


  1. * Members of the Task Force include Sir Rod Eddington (former CEO, British Airways), Sir Peter Rigby, Sandie Dawe (former CEO, Visit Britain) and Neil Pakey (CEO, Shannon Airport and former president, Airport Operators Association), academics from Cambridge and Ghent Universities and University College London and business representatives from seven different parts of the UK (Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the North East & Yorkshire, the North West, the South West of England and the Midlands). The full line up is as follows: Suzanne Bond, CEO, Cornwall Development Company; lestyn Davies, Head of External Relations, Federation of Small Business (Wales, Scotland and NI); Sandie Dawe, Former CEO, Visit Britain; Prof. Ben Derudder, Prof. Human Geography, Ghent University and Director of Globalisation and World Cities Network; Dan Fell, Deputy Chief Executive, Doncaster Chamber of Commerce; Sir Rod Eddington, Ex-CEO, British Airways; Lord Haskins, House of Lords; Paul Hildreth, Bartlett School of Planning, University College London; Doreen McKenzie, CEO, Knock Travel, Board Member of ABTA; Derick Murray, Director, Nestrans; Neil Pakey, CEO Shannon Group, ex President of UK Airport Operators Association; Sir Peter Rigby, Chair of Patriot Aerospace and Ex chair Warwickshire & Coventry LEP; Lord Shipley OBE, Chair; Jenny Stewart, CEO Liverpool Chamber of Commerce and Professor Peter Tyler, University Professor, Dept  of Land Economy, University of Cambridge.

  2. Lord Shipley OBE - Biography:

    A former Newcastle City Council Leader, Lord Shipley has lived and worked in Newcastle upon Tyne for more than four decades. A member of the House of Lords since 2010, he sits on the Economic Affairs Committee.  Lord Shipley has a strong political interest in regional growth in the UK, particularly regarding the North East of England. He recognises the important role transport infrastructure, including air connectivity, plays in driving growth outside London.  He was a member of the Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Authority for many years. He also sat on the board of Newcastle International Airport Local Authority Holding Company (the grouping of the seven local authorities who between them hold a 51% share in the airport) between 2004 and 2006. He was also a member of the Northern Way Transport Compact.

    Other roles have included serving as a Board member of the regional development agency, One North East (2005-2012). Lord Shipley has also acted as an advisor to the Government on cities and local growth policy. 

  3. All other biographies are available on the Task Force’s web site: http://www.nationalconnectivitytaskforce.co.uk/

  4. The concept of setting up the Task Force was first set out in May 2014 by Heathrow Airport Ltd (HAL) in its submission to the Airports Commission. HAL are facilitating the work of the Task Force by sponsoring its Secretariat and Research Programme, but in line with the Task Force’s independent status - its Terms of Reference, the scope of the research being undertaken, the stakeholders it engages with and the recommendations that will form the conclusions to its final report, will all be determined by the Task Force alone.