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Heathrow is favourite for new runway – but the fat lady isn’t singing yet

[ October 18, 2016   //   ]

A Cabinet sub-committee, chaired by Theresa May, is expected to make a choice of which London airport to expand next week – but a vote by MPs to finally decide whether to go ahead is unlikely to take place for another year.

The Government has also indicated that its own MPs would be allowed to speak out against the proposals. Many Conservatives, including Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, and Education Secretary Justine Greening are vehemently opposed to expanding Heathrow.

However, the fact that the Government has made moves to assuage them has been taken by some commentators as a sign that the sub-committee will in fact back plans for a third runway at Heathrow, as opposed to a second at Gatwick.

Meanwhile, the Freight Transport Association, which FTA backs a third runway at Heathrow warned that failure maintain a global hub airport in the UK would see the country’s airfreight passing through the Channel ports to be flown via European airports in future.

Speaking to delegates at the Richmond Events Supply Chain Forum, FTA deputy chief executive James Hookham said that as Britain builds up overseas markets in a post Brexit world, access to flights that serve these destinations direct from a home airport will be even more critical for exporters and importers looking to keep their goods competitive and consumer prices down.

This is the long-standing role played by Heathrow but a failure to expand its capacity and maintain its attractiveness to global airlines will see an increasing number of long-haul flights start and end at continental airport hubs, such as Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Paris.

Mr Hookham said: “In a post Brexit world, Britain cannot rely on continental airports for access to its global markets. The need to maintain and develop a UK global hub airport is as important for future air freight needs as it is for passengers.”

 

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