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Feature


Business Travel Sector Focus The latest news from the sectors that matter to business


Aviation review is welcomed


A Government-led review into air passenger duty on domestic flights is ‘long overdue’, in light of how the aviation industry has been hampered by the pandemic, according to the Chamber. Chamber head of policy Raj


Kandola welcomed the review, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that a consultation would be launched to reform duty structures across domestic flights, in an effort to boost transport connectivity across the country. The consultation will also


explore new requirements to offset carbon emissions and measures to decarbonise the aviation industry. Mr Kandola said that airline


operators had long questioned the fairness of duty on domestic flights. He said: “The review into air passenger duty is long overdue and has becoming even more pressing in light of the devastating impact of Covid-19 on the aviation industry and the associated sectors. “It’s clear that anchor


institutions such as Birmingham Airport have been crying out for sustained financial support in order to get through the next few months and it was disappointing to see the Chancellor made no such reference in the recent Budget. “Airline operators have long


questioned the fairness of the duty on domestic flying, particularly when you compare it to the amount of tax that is paid to travel to the furthest European return destination. “Nevertheless, the review will


also need to take into consideration the impact that reforms would have on the UK’s attempts to reach net zero. We would urge the Government to work closely with operators and the wider business community to set out a blueprint on how we can achieve those targets while also revitalising an aviation industry which is central to the success of the West Midlands and beyond.”


54 CHAMBERLINK April 2021


Boris has backed investment package for the bus sector


The Government has unveiled a £3bn package of investment for the bus sector. Prime Minister Boris Johnson


launched the buses boost while on a visit to National Express in Coventry. The Prime Minister’s plans


include ploughing cash into loss- making rural services, more bus lanes, and a ban on diesel vehicles. There will also be simpler bus


fares with daily price caps, more evening and weekend services, integrated services and ticketing options across all transport modes and the ability for all buses to accept contactless payments. The plan includes promises to


deliver 4,000 new British-built electric or hydrogen buses, to help transition cities in England to emission-free buses, something which is already happening in Birmingham and Coventry. Mr Johnson said: “Buses are


lifelines and liberators, connecting people to jobs they couldn’t otherwise take, driving pensioners and young people to see their friends, sustaining town centres and protecting the environment. “As we build back from the pandemic, better buses will be one of our first acts of levelling-up.” Chamber head of policy Raj


Kandola said: “It’s pleasing to see the Government reiterate their commitment to improving bus services across the country.


Train time: More services have returned to the Midlands rail network


Bus boost: Boris Johnson during his visit to National Express Coventry Ignacio Garat, group chief


“Questions will be raised as to


how this plan will work in practice and whether the rhetoric will be backed by firm action as we emerge from the pandemic. “It’s also fair to say that this top


down strategy will only work if local authorities and operators are able to shape the plans – here in the West Midlands, operators such as National Express are ahead of the curve on many of these fronts, particularly as their entire bus fleet will be zero-emission by 2030 and they are working with Birmingham City Council to roll out 20 hydrogen buses in the city next year.”


executive of National Express said: “We were delighted to welcome the Prime Minister to Coventry and show him our newest electric buses in operation. “The National Bus strategy


comes at a vital time, and we fully embrace the proposals for operators to work in partnership with local authorities to deliver cleaner, greener services that meet the needs of customers. This is exactly the approach we have adopted across the West Midlands, where we have improved services while keeping fares down.”


‘Buses are


lifelines and liberators, connecting


people to jobs they couldn’t otherwise take’


Extra services as schools return


West Midlands Railway has introduced a small number of additional services on routes via Birmingham Snow Hill to coincide with the reopening of schools. Six extra trains are now running each weekday


afternoon to help provide capacity for students using the railway to travel home from lessons. The Birmingham Snow Hill lines serves the Black


Country and destinations such as Stratford, Worcester and Hereford. Passengers are being reminded that the railway


should be used for essential journeys only while the current government restrictions remain in place. Jonny Wiseman, customer experience director for


West Midlands Railway, said: “Our routes via Birmingham Snow Hill serve destinations close to a number of large schools. “We encourage pupils using the train to maintain


social distancing on board and remind all customers that everyone aged over 11 must wear a face covering by law, unless exempt on medical grounds.”


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