The prospect of the first new runway in south-east England since 1946 edged closer today after the UK Government finally backed proposals for a third runway at London Heathrow.
The Airports National Policy Statement now goes to a Parliamentary vote in the next few weeks and up to 75 per cent of MPs are expected to back it.
But even if that is the case, it doesn’t mean it’s a done deal as a complex round of legal, housing and environmental challenges will need to be overcome.
Today’s decision at least marks progress in a long-standing debate, and it has been warmly received by airlines, trade unions and the business community.
Craig Kreeger, CEO Virgin Atlantic, applauded the Government’s decision. “Heathrow expansion is a once-in-a-generation opportunity that must not be squandered,” he said.
Adrian Parkes, CEO, GTMC, said its research with Oxford Economics found just a one per cent increase in international air business travel – which can only be achieved by airport expansion – will deliver £400m in knock-on economic benefits.
But will the regions benefit? While Heathrow is indisputably the transfer heartbeat of UK aviation, it’s equally true that many regional airports have grown, and continue to grow, on the back of point-to-point services. Passengers in Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham and Cardiff can now fly to the Gulf and beyond without transiting Heathrow.