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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
Customers look at the new iPhones on display at the launch of the new Apple iPhone 6 and iphone 6 plus at the Apple IFC store in Hong Kong
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Sport
Andros Townsend is challenged by Vladimir Volkov
football
Arts and Entertainment
Rapper Jay Z performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2008
musicSinger sued over use of the single-syllable sample in 'Run This Town'
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

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Head of Audit

To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

Audit Manager Central Functions

To £85,000 + banking benefits: Saxton Leigh: You will be expected to carry out...

Credit Risk Audit Manager

Up to £90,000 + benefits: Saxton Leigh: Credit Risk Audit Manager required to ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week