Today is a landmark day for the UK’s aviation sector as MPs will vote in Parliament on whether to give Heathrow Airport the green light to expand and associations are queuing up in urging them to approve the plans.
The Freight Transport Association (FTA) says prospects for future global trade are “bleaker” without an expanded Heathrow.
UK politicians will vote on the Airports National Policy Statement (NPS) and whether a third runway will be built at the UK hub as part of a £14 billion expansion plan at 2.30pm today (UK time).
The FTA’s deputy chief executive, James Hookham said: “Brexit will provide great opportunities for British business to forge new trading relationships outside the EU.
“But without an expanding global hub airport, with increased capacity for business, the prospects for trading partnerships to be established by importers and exporters with the new world markets we will need to work with are pretty bleak.”
He added: “Without the increased flexibility and access that an expanded Heathrow will provide, it will be difficult to diversify our economy away from EU trade and maximise the opportunities which Brexit offers.
“Our increasing reliance on the on-line, e-commerce ‘I Want It Now’ trading environment is based on efficient air cargo links with the rest of the world – UK suppliers will otherwise not be able to compete effectively with competitors in Asia, North and South America, and beyond.”
He said the logistics industry’s message to MPs is simple “you need to equip the country with the means of trading efficiently in a post-Brexit world” and failure to expand Heathrow will diminish the prospects for Britain’s future trading ambitions.
Meanwhile, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has urged MPs to vote in favour of expansion at Heathrow and regional vice president for Europe, Rafael Schvartzman said: “We urge the members of the UK parliament to vote in favour of the NPS. A global Britain needs a hub airport ready to seize the opportunities of an increasingly interconnected world.”
IATA says the position of Heathrow as the dominant hub for international traffic in Europe has steadily declined over the past two decades, as opportunities to grow at the congested airport become scarce.
Schvartzman added: “On current trends, by 2025 – the soonest a new runway could be built—Heathrow’s competitive edge will have been further eroded. It’s time for MPs to end years of dither and delay and vote for a strong, connected Britain.”
Airlines UK, which represents UK carriers said it is “now or never” for expansion and chief executive, Tim Alderslade said: “It is now or never for Heathrow expansion and the prospect of a bigger and better hub airport – there can be no turning back if the vote is lost – and we hope MPs will recognise this and provide the all-important political support that is needed to take the scheme to the next stage.
“Airlines are clear that they will respond to the unlocking of capacity by creating new routes and providing consumers with more choice and frequency – including to regional airports within the UK. The country desperately needs a new runway if it is to cater for future demand from passengers and cargo customers and enable us to do business in new markets and destinations overseas – this will be all important as we prepare to leave the EU.”