Access to high quality international air travel is vital to attract new business to Britain and for the success of the wider economy. Yet unless action is taken in the near future to modernise our airport infrastructure our capital city could face an air capacity crunch. London Heathrow has been full for over a decade, whilst all of the capital’s airports, including Gatwick and Stansted are forecast to be full by the mid-2020s.
Historically as a country we have always forged strong global connections and been at the forefront of harnessing the dynamism of new economies. For the last three centuries or more Britain has been home to the busiest port or airport, infrastructure that has played a strategic role in making us the economic power we are today.
Now more than ever Britain’s economic competitiveness demands greater international connectivity. While trade patterns are dominated by traditional partners, global economic growth is increasingly being driven by emerging markets. Easy access to developing and developed markets is a key to boosting growth and creating jobs. Yet our capital city is already at a competitive disadvantage with fewer weekly flights than its European rivals to seven of the eight growth economies identified by the IMF. Over 20 emerging market destinations are served by daily flights from other European cities but not from London. Britain is quickly falling behind.
If our economy is to flourish in the future it is vital we continue to be one of the best connected countries in the world. This is why we believe Britain remaining Europe’s most important aviation hub is of strategic national importance. If our politicians fail to act there is a real risk that our economy will lose its competitive edge. Aviation policy should form part of a wider transport and infrastructure plan which reconciles different economic priorities across Britain, with modernised aviation and transport infrastructure contributing to economic growth in all parts of the country.
Whilst we support the Airports Commission in coming up with a sensible aviation policy, we have concerns that unless its solutions win cross-party support, the growing economic cost of deferring a strategy to deliver new runways – which is costing our economy billions in trade and investment every year – will not be halted.
Our ask of politicians
Before the next general election we urge the three main party leaders to immediately acknowledge the need for more air capacity, commit to finding a cross-party solution to modernise our airport infrastructure; and in their manifestos commit to be guided by what the Airports Commission recommends for the long-term; pledging to maintain, protect and enhance Britain’s status as a global aviation hub.
It’s time to Let Britain Fly.
To download the campaign statement, please click here.