A group of 50 business leaders has described the response from the UK government to an interim report on airport expansion as, “deeply disappointing,” in an open letter to the UK media.
A range of measures to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of airports were outlined in a report published in December 2013 by the government’s Airports Commission. In a response last week, secretary of state for transport, Patrick McLoughlin says measures are already being taken by his Department for Transport to ensure better access to airports by road and rail. He also says that a, “senior delivery group,” set up by the department was driving forward a future airspace strategy, which was expected to deliver annual benefits of more than £150 million ($256.7 million) to the aviation industry and environment by 2020 and more than £2 billion worth of cumulative benefits by 2030.
One of the business leaders, Baroness Jo Valentine, chief executive of business leaders’ group London First, says that after seven months of waiting, the government has failed to rise to the challenge set by the commission in its interim report.
Valentine comments: “It will be over a decade before we have a new runway serving London, if we’re lucky, and this was a great chance to hear how the government will make best use of the airports we have to boost our global reach. Instead we have no short-term plans to make the rail link to Stansted [Airport] world-class, and no plans to attract airlines.”
The commission has shortlisted two Heathrow Airport options and one for Gatwick Airport and will make a final decision in its full report due out after May 2015 after the general election.
McLoughlin says the commission expected to decide on whether to shortlist the estuary option this year. He adds: “As we have said before, it will be for the government of the day to respond to the commission’s recommendations.” The estuary option is a new airport proposed by London Mayor Boris Johnson.