Airport Expansion – IoD Comments

Dan Lewis, Senior Adviser on Infrastructure Policy at the Institute of Directors, said:

“Business will welcome the fact that the Government has finally taken this necessary decision in the national interest, ending years of frustrating prevarication. The future success of the British economy will depend upon companies being able to continue and expand trade with the world, particularly beyond Europe. For that to happen there have to be enough flights to the destinations firms want. Heathrow is already full, and Gatwick will be full soon, so more capacity is vital. Only 3% of IoD members think the current number of runways is sufficient for the long-term.

“That said, IoD members also want the Government to keep an eye on the public subsidy that goes towards the new runway. We would like to see Heathrow commit to taking on more of the cost of the transport links that get people there. We have to be realistic that it may take time for the expansion to get planning permission in the face of legal challenges, so the Government must also look at interim solutions. Ministers should consider options including increasing capacity on the trainline from London to Gatwick and lifting the annual cap on flights at Stansted, combined with a faster train service.

“We also shouldn’t forget that the Davies Commission process set up a false choice between Heathrow and Gatwick. There remain good arguments for expansion at Gatwick on grounds of competition and cost, and Ministers should keep their options open for a second runway there.”