Business leaders demand action on airport expansion
Virgin founder, Sir Richard Branson, believes that delays mean 'airlines, the public and the economy are all suffering'
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Tuesday 19 November 2013
Business leaders and senior backbenchers have lambasted politicians past and present for failing to expand airport capacity in South East England.
Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin empire, said: “While MPs from all parties kick airport capacity around like a political football, airlines, the public and the economy are all suffering.
"The UK can't afford any more wasted opportunities. It must make sure that any solution is just that - a solution to the UK's chronic capacity shortage, not an expensive, politically expedient white elephant.
Louise Ellman, chair of the Transport Select Committee, told The Independent: “Over past years, governments have failed to actually take a decision. They might have said what they thought should happen, but it's never actually gone ahead. Time is now running out. If we don't do something about expanding our hub capacity, our rivals will continue to expand to our detriment.”
The criticisms were made at the launch of a pro-expansion campaign funded by UK industry, called “Let Britain Fly”. More than 100 business leaders are demanding that the next government acts on the recommendations of the Airport Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies.
Interim proposals are due in December, with the full Davies Commission report expected shortly after the 2015 general election. Sir Howard has already indicated that his commission will favour at least one additional runway, but no political party has agreed to be bound by his recommendations.
John Allan, chairman of Dixons Retail, said “For too long, this issue has been placed in the 'too difficult' box. We can't afford to be gifted amateurs in the world economy - we've got to become more professional. We need to come together on this issue and forge a cross-party agreement.”
Graham Brady MP, chairman of the Conservative backbench 1922 Committee, said: “I meet business people in all parts of the north of England who are 'muddling through' by hubbing at airports on the Continent. I'd rather they were changing planes in London rather than in then Holland or Germany or Paris.”
But anti-expansion campaigners accused the new campaign of lacking focus. John Stewart of HACAN Clear Skies, which opposes a third runway at Heathrow, said: “It is too easy simply to make general calls for airport expansion without exploring its impacts on local communities. Let Britain Fly needs to do this if it is to become a serious player in the debate.”
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 Cyclist who knocked down three-year-old girl says his life has been 'destroyed'
- 2 A politically correct lefty goes to see Top Gear live – you'll probably believe what happened next
- 4 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
EU referendum: David Cameron to deny EU migrants and under-18s the chance to vote
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
£24K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Events Coordinator ...
Salary 42,000: Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: The CEO is responsible ...
£35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...