This week’s announcement by the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, that the Government is giving the go ahead to a third runway at Heathrow, is an extremely important and welcome step forward towards building vital additional airport capacity in the UK. Increasing airport capacity is essential to the UK’s economy, growth and global competitiveness and the Government now needs to work across party boundaries for a political consensus that will ensure the new Heathrow runway gets built by 2025. ABTA takes a long-term view and, having consulted with Members on this issue, we believe that there is also a very strong argument for future expansion at Gatwick: Heathrow is full, but Gatwick also operates at full capacity during peak periods. Additional capacity will mean both airports can cope with growing passenger demand, and also have the necessary resilience to deal effectively and efficiently with the disruption that occurs following events such as adverse weather or industrial action. Thick fog yesterday morning in the South East of England had precisely that effect. In backing the third runway at Heathrow, the Government has set out some conditions, which ABTA supports, including managing environmental impacts and delivering public transport infrastructure to support the increased demand. When it reported last year, the Davies Commission stated clearly that costs should be managed in an effective and efficient way and that today’s passengers must not be expected to pay for a runway that won’t open until the mid-2020s, a view we firmly endorse. ABTA will be working with the Government, as well as the opposition parties, to do all we can to ensure the momentum behind this decision continues and that we finally get the additional airport capacity this country so vitally needs.
Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive