LETTER : High quality of British airports

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The Independent Online
Sir: Simon Calder writes (28 March) "airports are awful ... you hang around for ages with little to do but eat uninviting food and spend a fortune in the shops on things you don't really want or need."

This may once have been the case, but there has been a huge advance in the quality of UK airports. Our interviewing of more than 400,000 passengers a year shows a continuous rise in customer satisfaction.

Nor is it acceptable for Simon Calder and Jonathan Glancey to attack retailing at airports as if it was an imposition on passengers. Research shows that 90 per cent of passengers expect and want to see comprehensive shopping and catering facilities at the airports - indeed, they want more. They understand, as well, that the income from retailing finances the pounds 1m a day that BAA spends on further improving airport facilities.

Mr Glancey refers to a number of quality airports around the world but does not point out that they all have to be funded by the taxpayer. Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and other BAA airports, now also of the highest quality, are-provided to the country at no cost to the taxpayer, not least because of the retailing success.

Des Wilson

Director Corporate and

Public Affairs

BAA plc

London SW1