Simpson explains that had companies submitted figures individually, as happens in many agreements, the sector would have marginally missed its target. Instead the best performing companies donated savings in excess of the target to the industry and this seems to have worked.

He praises the willingness of companies to help their competitors in the interests of the whole industry and says that the success of this co-operation will form a strong part of the industry’s case in negotiating a new agreement.

The current agreement ends in April 2013, but TSA wants to argue for a new agreement to start in 2012 and to last for a 10 year period in return for meeting “really challenging targets”.

Simpson says: “It’s a bold offer but the industry has proved it can meet tough targets if it has the correct legal and fiscal backing.”