Davies: Use Heathrow expansion to re-establish regional air links

Third runway at Heathrow would be a way to re-grow a national air network that has been lost over the past 20 years, says author of the report into the airport's proposed expansion.

If the government approves a third runway at Heathrow it would help to re-establish connections between regional UK airports and other major international hubs, according to Sir Howard Davies.

Davies is the author of the Airports Commissions report into the options available to increase air passenger capacity into the UK. The report comes down heavily on the side of a third runway at Heathrow – claiming it would add £147 billion to the UK economy and create 70,000 jobs by 2050.

Speaking about his findings, Davies said that he had visited other areas of the UK to gauge their feelings about the various options on offer.

“I’ve been to Manchester, Inverness, Belfast, Aberdeen etc,” he said. “One thing you discover is just how important they think their links to Heathrow are.

>See also: Directors urge investment in infrastructure

“Although they would like their local airport to have as many interconnections as possible, they know that the only way they will access a broad global network is by connecting with Heathrow.”

Davies pointed to the fact that in the past 20 years – with Heathrow running at near full capacity – regional connections to the airport have more than halved. Where there were 15 in 1995 there are now only seven.

“That has a serious economic consequence in other parts of the country,” he said. “Because they can’t say to investors that you can go to Heathrow and pop to Chicago with a connecting flight.”

Consequently Davies is urging the government to reinforce this message by using public money to increase infrastructure – making sure the economic benefits of a third runway are put towards re-establishing the regional connections that have been lost.

‘No more delays’ says FSB

Meanwhile the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), which was consulted as part of the Airport Commissions’ investigation, said that following the findings there “must not be any further excuses or delays”.

While the government has no obligation to accept the report’s findings, FSB national chairman John Allan claimed any further hesitation would “put the long-term economic health of the UK at risk”.

“What this process has made clear is that we cannot continue to delay the big decisions on national infrastructure which simply holds back the ambitions of the country,” he continued.

“New roads, broadband infrastructure, and improved regional and national transport links are vital to our future economic growth and wellbeing. A longer term transport strategy, which takes all modes of transport into account, is required to deliver this.”

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2016 to 2018.

Related Topics