Commenting on the ongoing debate over aviation strategy and a third runway at Heathrow, John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:
“There is an aviation-shaped hole in the government’s plans to improve the UK’s infrastructure and encourage growth. While ministers acknowledge the threat a lack of capacity at UK airports poses to our economy, too little is being done to address it. The UK will miss out on investment and jobs if the government does not act now to improve capacity in the South East, strengthen our regional airports, and develop more connections to emerging markets.
“Infrastructure is the lifeblood of British business. Air links are no exception. Ministers want new infrastructure funded by the private sector. But they’re missing the one option staring them right in the face. A privately funded third runway at Heathrow would add much needed capacity to our maxed out airports. Business leaders like Richard Branson and Willie Walsh are right to argue that expansion would benefit thousands of firms across the UK, and help get our economy back on track by attracting investment from overseas. “The publication of the Aviation Policy Framework has been delayed until the summer, giving the government ample time to investigate the available options for boosting the UK’s aviation capacity. But continued delay risks leaving the UK at a competitive disadvantage to its global competitors. While Britain dithers, others do. Foreign competitors are forging ahead on new air links while we sit and twiddle our thumbs.“A recent survey* of business leaders revealed that the UK will miss out on investment because of poor air connections. Business leaders in high growth or emerging economies see direct air links as vital to maintaining the UK’s prospects in global markets. Nine out of ten (92%) of these business leaders say direct flights influence their inward investment decisions; while eight in ten (80%) say they would trade more with the UK if flight connections were improved to their home markets.”