Need for airport expansion ‘urgent’, say business chiefs

Proposed plan for new runway at  Gatwick Airport SUS-150302-164645001
Proposed plan for new runway at Gatwick Airport SUS-150302-164645001

One hundred business chiefs have written to the Government, urging ministers to fast-track the expansion of either Gatwick or Heathrow.

Campaign group Let Britain Fly says Britain would lose out if the Government does not act decisively on an upcoming Airports Commission report, which will recommend expanding Gatwick or Heathrow.

Signatories include a number of business leaders from major firms, including many from the FTSE 100; alongside the heads of business organisations including the British Chambers of Commerce, IOD, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and London First.

Let Britain Fly director Gavin Hayes said: “The new government should use its fresh mandate and make a bold and early decision to build a new runway. With all of London’s airports forecast to be full by 2030, kicking the can down the road is no longer an option.

“This will be one of the first big issues that will test whether the Government is capable of making strategic decisions in the national interest.

“The Conservatives pledged in their manifesto they would ‘respond to the Airports Commission’s Final Report’, to maintain the trust and confidence of the business community it’s essential that response is both positive and timely.

“After almost three years of debating the issue in a Commission decision-day is fast approaching.”

“One of the most urgent infrastructure priorities for the new Government is the decision to expand airport capacity.

“Expanding our international connectivity is fundamental to ensuring Britain remains open for business and would give a much-needed boost to trade, tourism, investment and economic growth right across the country. By value forty per cent of our exports go by air; we trade up to twenty times more with countries we have a direct air link to.

“With Heathrow already full, Gatwick full by 2020 and most of London’s other airports full by 2030, the demand for expansion is self-evident.

“As people who run some of Britain’s leading businesses, it concerns us that other countries plan on building over fifty new runways between now and 2036. China alone will build seventeen. Whilst in this country we haven’t built a new full-length runway in the South East since 1945.

“Decades of inaction mean we are falling behind our competitors. Paris has 50% more flights to China. Whilst Dubai International recently overtook Heathrow as the world’s busiest airport.

“This is why when the Airports Commission publishes its Final Report, we urge the new Government to make an early decision on airport expansion and end over half a century of political procrastination.”

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