For the first time since the war the United Kingdom is on the cusp of having an aviation plan that can take the entire country forward.
With the Airports Commission due to hand its recommendation to government in the summer, this aviation plan will have the potential to connect all of the UK’s nations and regions to growth markets around the world, rebalance the economy and help create important jobs for now and the future.
The future needs of the country can only be met if all of nations and regions of the UK are placed at the centre of a national aviation plan. As part of a major consultation with community, stakeholders and business Heathrow established the National Connectivity Task Force to recommend the best way connectivity between the UK’s nations and regions can be enhanced.
In its response to the Taskforce, Heathrow has outlined what it would do to deliver the air connectivity that the regions and nations of the United Kingdom should expect from a national asset like Heathrow. It has announced a new package of commitments deliverable with expansion, designed to connect the UK’s nations and regions to growth markets around the world.
Taken together they have the potential to deliver billions of pounds worth of trade and investment opportunities, reversing a lost decade of connectivity which has seen regional connections to long-haul markets squeezed out of the UK’s hub airport. Heathrow has also committed to a £10m start-up fund to support new domestic routes and have undertaken to review our charges to play our part in making domestic connections viable.
International competition for jobs and trade has never been more intense. A country’s success in this global race depends on the strength of its links with existing and potential markets in Asia, Africa and the Americas.
With a national asset like Heathrow able to reach these far-off markets with frequent and direct flights, Britain has a huge competitive advantage. Heathrow is the best located hub airport with 95% of the global economy within range of a direct flight.
Heathrow is the country’s biggest port for both passengers and freight. It handles twice as much cargo in value as the UK’s two busiest shipping container ports combined. Its role is complementary to the role of all other UK airports. Like its direct competitors in Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam, it serves markets that cannot be served by point-to-point airports.
But Heathrow has been full for ten years. In that time, airlines have swapped their domestic connections for more lucrative long haul ones, creating a lost decade of connectivity for British business of all sizes from all corners of the country.
Only Heathrow, the UK’s best connected transport hub, will secure the UK’s place in the world as a global aviation hub for the next generation. Airports Commission analysis says that expansion at Heathrow will generate up to £211bn in economic growth and up to 180,000 jobs across the country. Heathrow’s plans are backed by five regional airports and 32 Chambers of Commerce across the country.
The decision of the future of the UK’s aviation capacity is both urgent and one of the most significant the next government will take.
Further delay will put at serious risk the UK’s long-term growth and prosperity as we fall behind our global competitors. And unless the new capacity serves and connects all of the UK, the danger is our economy will remain unbalanced.
Heathrow has to be part of any solution.