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Heathrow airport expansion approved by government

Industry groups welcome decision and urge Heathrow to "swiftly move forward" with construction plans

Pictured: Heathrow Airport

Events and tourism industries have welcomed the government's long-awaited decision to expand Heathrow airport, but say it could still be a long and "arduous" process to get there.

Spokespersons for British Visits and Events Partnership (BVEP), UKinbound and other representative bodies have urged stakeholders to "swiftly move forward" with development plans, after the decision was announced today.

Ministers backed the recommendation of the Airports Commission to expand Heathrow rather than Gatwick at a cabinet committee meeting.

The Department for Transport said: “In a major boost for the UK economy the government today announced its support for a new runway at Heathrow – the first full length runway in the south-east since the second world war.”

Michael Hirst, chair of BVEP, urged all involved to accelerate the process now a decision was made. "We welcome any decision to increase airport capacity in Britain," he said. "Our only concern is we haven't got a time period for it to happen. It would be good to see the process accelerated as fast as can be, because the quicker we can cement our ability to increase airport capacity, the better our international footprint for business events.

"The decision is the start of the process; let's now focus on the plan to carry it out, as we're going to go through what could be quite an arduous process to get the job done. Those of us in business, especially business events, want to see that job done as quickly as possible."

UKinbound chief executive officer Deirdre Wells said: "UKinbound is delighted that a decision has been made by the government and that the building of a new runway at London Heathrow will now move forward. We would like to congratulate London Heathrow and also urge the airport to swiftly move forward with the development of a third runway."

Paul Wait, chief executive of the GTMC, called the decision the most "positive economic step-change in recent times", but added that Gatwick Airport still carried "significant potential" for expansion. He said: "Business travellers favour Heathrow as an international airport hub, and yet they crave more routes to more emerging and established economies. It is important to recognise that as well as the opportunities that expansion at Heathrow will bring, Gatwick Airport has invested in meeting the needs of the business traveller and carries significant potential if given the go-ahead to also expand."

Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association said: “We welcome the government’s decision on airport expansion at Heathrow. The challenge from other European hub-airports vying to replace Heathrow is serious, especially once the United Kingdom has left the European Union. This decision demonstrates that the UK is open to visitors and investment from across the globe, and will also allow space for domestic air links to support regional tourism right across the country.”

James Heappey MP, the chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Events threw his weight behind airport expansion at Heathrow in July.

He said: “I think Heathrow is the only show in town and we should get on with it. The UK is losing ground to our European neighbours at exactly the time when we need to be racing out in front to mitigate the impacts of Brexit. If our strategy post-Brexit is to trade not just with Europe but increasingly with the world beyond, we need airports with the capacity to connect with those new markets.”

Conservative MP and former candidate for London mayor Zac Goldsmith is set to resign his Richmond Park seat in protest at the decision. Foreign secretary and former London mayor Boris Johnson has also been a vocal critic of Heathrow expansion.

  • Julian Bray of Aviation Security Analyst 27/10/2016

    Julian Bray writes: After a number of well placed leaks early this morning, a government notice was rushed out, confirming the third runway for Heathrow. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling drew the short straw to deliver the government line.

    The official notification will be to Parliament in a Commons Statement later today.

    We can expect an avalanche of legal challenges from areas and communities due to disappear under the tarmac.

    In fact, it's suggested Heathrow and the surrounding M25 road network might not be fully open for business for another fifteen years.

    It is also expected that Gatwick will in any case press on with its own privately financed runway project and that could be up and running before Heathrow!

    We live in interesting times.....ideally both Heathrow and Gatwick should expand. That alone will temper the Heathrow project as profitability projections will have to be revised. But then who would ever sanction that?

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