Exclusive: Stop dithering over airport capacity, business leaders tell politicians

Let Britain Fly has enlisted 10 business figures to make video appeals for more airport capacity

associate business editor

Harrods’ managing director, Michael Ward, will this week front a new campaign warning that political indecision over airport expansion is harming Britain’s economy.

Let Britain Fly, a campaign trying to build cross-party support for extra runways in the capital and the South-east, has enlisted 10 business figures to make video appeals for more airport capacity.

In video rushes seen by The Independent, Mr Ward said that “increasingly the luxury and international traveller is very time poor, so direct flights for us are hugely important”.

He added that cities such as Paris and Frankfurt would take over “where we [London] once led” as a luxury destination.

“If politicians continue to dither on a decision on airport capacity we will start to prejudice London’s premier position, certainly as an international luxury destination,” he said.

Paul Mansi, chief operating officer at the Radisson Blu Edwardian hotel group, argued that a decision was “long overdue and this procrastination needs to stop”. He added: “We used to be competing with local hotels, now we’re competing globally on location.”

The campaign does not just include well-known luxury and consumer companies. Louis Kunzig, managing director at Berkshire-based Sciaky Electric Welding Machines, warned that “the cost of doing business globally will go up” without a quick decision on airport expansion.

Let Britain Fly director Gavin Hayes said: “This is about the wider business community ramping up our campaign message as we approach the party conferences and a looming general election campaign, which is now just months away.”

 

Sir Howard Davies, a former chairman of the Financial Services Authority, published his interim airports report at the end of last year, making it clear that the choice for a new runway was between Heathrow and Gatwick.

A second runway at the latter would cost about £8bn, considerably less than Heathrow. However, a third runway at Heathrow would confirm the airport’s standing as one of the world’s premier hubs.

But the final report is not due until after next year’s general election, infuriating businesses that believe more airport capacity is needed now if the UK is to compete with growing hubs like Schiphol in the Netherlands and Dubai.

Politicians from all parties are concerned about publicly committing themselves to expansion as they are worried about losing the votes of constituents living near the airports. Expansion is also heavily criticised by environmental groups.

In May, Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group, owner of British Airways, said he believed Gatwick would eventually be chosen because it is less politically sensitive.

“My view is that the third runway at Heathrow is not going to happen,” he told The Independent. “We will be making a mistake we will live to regret. We will look back 20 years from now and ask, ‘How did we allow ourselves to get into this position?’ We will lose out in terms of economic growth. A lot of airlines want to fly to Heathrow: not the UK but Heathrow. If they can’t fly to Heathrow they will go somewhere else like Paris or Amsterdam.”

Away from the main two airports, the Government has approved plans to expand London Luton Airport in a move that could allow 45,000 extra flights and create 5,000 new jobs.

Among the planned changes at the airport are increased retail, catering and seating areas and more screening lanes.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Swiss Banking and Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Can you speak German,...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - 6 month FTC - Central London

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity f...

Ashdown Group: Junior Project Manager (website, web application) - Agile

£215 per day: Ashdown Group: Junior Project Manager (website, web application ...

Guru Careers: Software Engineer / Software Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software Engineer / Softw...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power