Businesses call for UK airport action
UK businesses are calling for ministers to back a solution to Britain’s ongoing airport capacity issues or else they will risk losing out to more competitive transportation hubs.
In an open letter to the Telegraph, a total of 52 leaders of financial, retail and transport firms argued that more flights through Heathrow and more trains to London airports should be a priority for the government.
Currently, the Airports Commission is reviewing the options that include an additional runway at the UK’s busiest transport hub, greater capacity at Gatwick or an entirely new airport constructed on an island in the Thames Estuary.
The findings of the report will be delayed until after the 2015 election, and considering a new runway will take a decade to deliver, it will not be until after 2025 that Britain has its additional capacity.
However, business leaders are also calling for action now to make Britain’s airports maximise their capacity, demanding an independent ombudsman to that effect.
They are also demanding better rail access to existing hubs, in particular Gatwick and Stansted, as has already been recommended by the Airports Commission.
Baroness Jo Valentine, chief executive of London First and lead author of the letter, claimed: “The world is not waiting while we navel gaze about whether we are going to put an airport in the Thames Estuary or expand Heathrow.
“There are many factors that make London a very successful city … This is just one factor, [but] clearly it is not helpful from a business perspective to have your air facilities withering which is what we are looking at for the next ten years.”
The letter also warned that airports need to be given the operational flexibility they require to minimise stacking and flight delays, with all considered options needing to take this into account.