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Airport expansion decision delayed until at least October

30 June 2016  •  Author: Katie Sadler, Digital Content Producer, International Airport Review

The decision as to where airport expansion should take place in South East England has been delayed until October confirms Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin.

airport expansion

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has confirmed that the Government’s response to the Airports Commission’s Final Report will be delayed until at least October

Airport expansion decision delayed ‘until at least October’

A year on from the Airports Commission’s Final Report which favoured Heathrow Airport over Gatwick Airport, a final decision as to where expansion should take place has once again been delayed. However, on the 28 June the Transport Secretary confirmed the government’s commitment to expanding airport capacity, insisting that investment in British infrastructure “has become more important, not less important” following the Brexit vote to leave the European Union.

“We remain committed to expansion and we remain committed to delivering runway capacity on the timescale set out in Sir Howard Davies’ report,” Mr McLoughlin said.

Responding to the Transport Secretary’s announcement to hand over a decision on Heathrow expansion to his successor, John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow’s Chief Executive, said that a third runway must be a part of the Government’s Brexit plan. “If Britain wants to be confident, outward-looking and at the centre of the world’s economy then expanding Heathrow must be a key building block in the Government’s Brexit plan,” said Mr Holland-Kaye.

Responding to the announcement from the Transport Secretary that a decision on airport expansion has been delayed, Stewart Wingate, Gatwick CEO, said:

“The need for Britain to expand aviation capacity has never been greater. At an uncertain time Britain needs to show it can be agile and decisive. We must move on and show the world that we are open for business. 

“Gatwick is already the most connected airport in the UK, offering Britain connections to all five continents, to developed and emerging markets alike. It is now clear that only Gatwick can deliver the expansion we need and do so by 2025.  We can help improve our international competitive position by offering the fastest possible improvement to our trading links at a time when it is most necessary. 

“There is nothing in our way. The time for debate is now over and the time has come for Britain to get on with it. We can privately finance the project. We can offer a fair deal for those most impacted and we can support growth across all regions of the country. We can deliver the runway that Britain needs.

“It’s time to expand Gatwick,” said Mr Wingate.

Industry reaction

Commenting on the announcement to delay a decision, AOA Chief Executive Darren Caplan said: “The AOA is deeply disappointed that a year on from the Airports Commission’s Final Report, the Government has announced a further delay to its response to the Commission, until at least October. This is despite the Government’s firm commitment to decide by the end of 2015, which was then delayed until this summer. This additional delay comes at a time when all are agreed that clear action is needed to demonstrate the UK is open for business and confident about its future.

“Deeply disappointed”

“At this time of increased uncertainty, the Government should be putting its foot on the accelerator of the UK economy – not delaying making important infrastructure decisions that can help it succeed. We continue to urge the Government to make a decision on airport capacity as soon as possible.

“We also urge the Government to update its Aviation Policy Framework as soon as possible too. The Framework was set in 2013 yet the Department for Transport’s own passenger forecasts from then show that London and South East airports will all be full up by 2030 and airports outside the South East will be filling up from 2040. As well as delivering the additional capacity the UK needs to enable world-class links to both existing and emerging markets, the Government really does need to show some urgency on wider UK airports policy, setting out how we can make better use of existing airport capacity around the UK, for example modernising UK airspace and enhancing surface access links to airports.”

“Building a new runway in the South East is a key decision for the long-term future of our economy and country”

Reacting to the announcement, Paul Drechsler CBE, CBI President, said: “More than ever before, it is absolutely critical that the Government sends a signal, loud and clear, that the UK is open for trade with markets across the globe.

“Building a new runway in the South East is a key decision for the long-term future of our economy and country, and will demonstrate to, and reassure, Britain’s workers, makers, exporters and investors that the UK is open for business.

“The Government has announced the decision will be delayed yet again, but kicking the can down the road is already having a real effect. Last year the CBI showed that delays to getting a decision on airport expansion by 2030 could see the UK lose out on over £30 billion in lost trade with the BRIC economies alone.

“Our new analysis shows that our European rivals with spare capacity will be gaining at the UK’s expense, cashing in on their own thriving connectivity, if we fail to get on and build a new runway. By 2030, better capacity will see German trade with the BRIC economies alone grow by an additional £15 billion, and French trade grow by £7.5 billion – trade that could and should be coming here.

“We could still avoid this scenario, if the new Prime Minister makes a decision with a clear timetable for action immediately after entering Downing Street, so that construction can begin by 2020.”

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