Re: “Airport pitches runway extensions for Europe flights,” March 13.
The Victoria Airport Authority’s pitch to increase the runway length to accommodate large jets is misleading on a number of levels. First, it appeals to the outgoing traveller through the convenience of non-stop flights to London. Nowhere does it mention that the impetus comes from the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, and that its economic viability is dependent entirely on incoming tourists.
As the CEO acknowledges: “The challenge is how do you convince the carriers to fly over top of their hubs …” He doesn’t answer this — it’s because we’re close to two major hubs and economically, it doesn’t make sense.
The GVCC, representing the tourism industry, has listed the expansion as its top infrastructure priority. It claims that it would create 64 jobs, draw 33,700 new international visitors and create $10.9 million in annual economic impact. These statistics are largely pulled out of a hat. Their viability is dependent on a shaky British economy and the unproven assumption that tourists will overfly major hubs for Victoria.
And, let’s face it, as beautiful as Victoria is, it’s about as exciting as Canberra, Australia, another government town. So if American tourism is declining, it’s not likely that the British will revive it. The GVCC might have considered investing in attractions like the Crystal Gardens and the Royal London Wax Museum before a runway.
So who will pay for the expansion? The customers, of course, through taxes, euphemistically called “improvement fees.”
James K. Finley
© Copyright 2013