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It’s time for Parliament to give Heathrow the green light

Gavin Hayes, Director, Let Britain Fly | London First

2 min read Partner content

Responding to new polling data showing MPs’ opinions on airport expansion, London First calls for political dithering on the issue to stop.

After three years of careful deliberation, the Airports Commission’s examination of airport capacity has a clear conclusion: there needs to be a new runway at Heathrow. The ball is now in the Government’s and MPs’ court. It’s encouraging, therefore, that a new pollcommissioned by Dods shows that more MPs prefer Heathrow expansion to any other option. Only 9 per cent want to block further expansion around London.

Why is Heathrow expansion so necessary? Well, Heathrow, the country’s only international hub, has been full for a decade. All of London’s other major airports are likely to be full by 2030. If action isn’t taken urgently our economy will be seriously hamstrung.

Indeed, the economic benefits of a new runway would be significant. The Airports Commission concluded that a new runway at Heathrow could generate up to £147bn in GDP and up to 77,000 new jobs. And given reports last week that Britain’s trade deficit doubled in June it’s worth noting just how important airports are for trade: 40 per cent of our exports go by air and, by value, 26 per cent of our exports go through Heathrow alone.

If we let years of dithering over airport capacity continue, we will find trade goes to our competitors. Amsterdam has six runways and Paris and Frankfurt each have four. Heathrow has just two. That’s why Amsterdam, Paris and Frankfurt each fly to more destinations in Brazil and China than Heathrow. Frankfurt has direct flights to five cities in Brazil compared to London’s two. Paris, meanwhile, has 50 per cent more flights to mainland China.

In fact, we trade up to 20 times more with countries with which we have a direct air link. As global trade shifts East, new city powerhouses in Asia will continue to materialise – and we need to ensure our airport system has the capacity to adapt and provide the flights our economy needs.

Yet it will take 10 years for a new runway to come into action. That’s why the business community believes it’s time for action. It wants Parliament to give the green light to expansion by the end of July next year. Airport capacity is a big challenge facing our competitiveness: let’s make sure Britain rises to it.

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