Aviation industry confronts critics

The scale of the PR challenge facing the airline industry was highlighted in a fringe session organised by the Flying Matters coalition of airlines and airport operators.

The coalition’s vice-chair, Brian Wilson, was taken to task as he defended the growth of airports and spoke against higher taxes on flights.

Lord Whitty, chair of the National Consumer Council, dismissed Wilson’s suggestion that slapping green taxes on flights would hit the poor the hardest. ‘The bulk of any hit on aviation will be felt by the rich,’ he said.

Baroness Young, chief executive of the Environment Agency, said: ‘I hate to continually kick the aviation sector, but I have to do so to make my point.’

The chair, Murray Elder, director of the Smith Institute, said: ‘This is turning into a bashing-Brian session.’

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