Businesses demand UK runway action

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The UK government has been warned by over 100 business leaders that failure to expand runway capacity is risking future economic growth and the country’s global competitiveness.

A statement published by the Let Britain Fly campaign group was signed by business leaders and calls on the new Government to expand capacity.

It says while no new runway has been built in the South East of England since 1945, China is due to build 17 by 2036. It says Heathrow Airport is running at capacity and Gatwick Airport is expected to be full by 2020.

The statement says: “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.”

Business leaders who signed included Selfridges Group managing director, Paul Kelly and British Chambers of Commerce director general, John Longworth and London First chief executive officer, Jo Valentine.

The government appointed Airports Commission has shortlisted, a third runway at Heathrow (plans pictured), extending an existing runway at Heathrow or a second runway at Gatwick.

The commission is expected to publish its report in either June or July this year. Let Britain Fly director, Gavin Hayes says: “This will be the one of the first big issues that will test whether the Government is capable of making strategic decision in the national interest.”

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) is urging the government to make a decision. FTA director for Global and European Policy, Chris Welch says: “This will be seen as an important test by Britain’s exporters and importers, who depend on air cargo services, of the government’s commitment to boosting the UK’s competitiveness in international markets.”

A poll commissioned by Let Britain Fly suggests the UK public are in favour of runway expansion. The Populus poll of 2,159 respondents surveyed on 6 and 7 May says 45 per cent support new runways and 16 per cent oppose.