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Conflict in London's Transportation Industries

August 17, 2009 By: Jena Tesse Fox

As London prepares to host the 2012 Summer Olympic games, its transportation industry seems to be undergoing a sea change that may have reverberating consequences. Last week, the government announced that it would support replacing short-haul flights with high-speed rail, prompting an outcry from several British airlines, especially Ryanair. (For the record, several other European countries have begun to switch from air to rail, and Air France dealt with the potential problem by creating their own high-speed train line. I’m just saying, there are solutions here…)

(And while we're getting parenthetical, the government also pledged significant funds for Airbus to create new planes, so maybe their five-year plan isn't exclusively land-focused...)

This past week, Ryanair made headlines again when it announced that due to a £3 per passenger fee at Manchester Airport (that’s about $5), it would be dropping all but one of its flights from that base. (The company also announced that it would be opening a new hub at Leeds Bradford, so maybe it isn’t all bad.) While no business wants to pay an extra tax or see its interests threatened, the recent fuss over the high-speed trains and canceling flights can’t be doing much good for Ryanair’s image. The UK will be filled with tourists from around the world in a mere three years, and many of them will probably want to see more of the country than just London. The various transportation industries will need to work together—and with the government—to handle the crowds, and to move into the future.

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