UK business body warns of lost income before new runway

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Heathrow Airport proposed North West runway

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) warns the UK will lose £31 billion ($47.8 billion) in trade by 2030 to BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries while waiting for a new runway to be built.

Speaking at the Runways UK conference in London on 6 July, the CBI’s deputy director general Katja Hall, explains it is due to the failure to increase flights to BRIC markets.
The CBI was unable to tell Air Cargo Week what proportion of the £31 billion lost would be airfreight, as said it was not something their economists had looked into.

The warning comes after the UK government’s Airports Commission recommended on 1 July that a third runway should be constructed at Heathrow Airport. The CBI states if there are delays to getting this additional runway capacity by 2030, the cost to the UK economy in lost trade could be up to an additional £5.3 billion, which will rise in each subsequent year. It wants to see diggers in the ground by 2020.

“Delaying the decision to build a new runway will have a very real economic cost for our country. The commission has been clear in its recommendation to the government, and so are we, get on with building it without delay. A new runway will help rebalance our economy, prevent us handing opportunity to our rivals and avoid a future bill for our inaction,” Hall explains.
In Hall’s view, when it comes to airport capacity, “time is money,” and she says the UK is not just missing out on global opportunities, but is paying an economic price.

“With timescales of 10-15 years to build new capacity, we shouldn’t have got this far down the line without a plan of action. That’s money down the drain, there’s nothing we can do about it now. But, what we can do is avoid any future delays,” Hall notes.

Space runway capacity is an economic necessity according to Hall, and is the “connective tissue“ that gives the UK the means to compete, securing trade and investment. “In a world of global supply chains, fast global delivery is crucial for British businesses of all sizes,” Hall adds.