Leaders from more than 100 of Britain’s top firms have warned politicians that failure to commit to airport expansion risks condemning the UK to being a second-rate economy until at least 2040.
The warning came at the launch of “Let Britain Fly”, a campaign aimed at pressurising MPs to avert the UK’s looming air capacity crunch.
It calls on all major parties to include a commitment to tackle the problem in their manifestos for the 2015 General Election, and to commit to implementing the findings of the Airports Commission led by Sir Howard Davies.
Companies that have thrown their weight behind Let Britain Fly include Associated British Foods, Boots UK, Dixons, John Lewis, Land Securities, Lloyds Banking Group, Hilton Worldwide, Next, Westfield Group and WPP.
Organiser London First say this makes Let Britain Fly the biggest and most influential business-led campaign ever created to address the issue of airport expansion.
Also backing the drive are Louise Ellman MP, chair of the Transport Select Committee and Graham Brady MP, chairman of the 1922 Committee, as well as other senior and influential backbenchers.
John Allan, CBE, Chairman of Dixons Retail said: “Sorting out policy quickly to increase airport capacity in the South East is vital to enable long term economic growth, not just in the South East but for the UK as a whole. At Dixons, for example, the impact of increased tourism alone would boost our business and encourage further investment in the UK.”
Louise Ellman, MP, chair of the Transport Select Committee, said: “We need more hub capacity in the south east. Failure to tackle this means that the UK will continue to lose out to its competitors in Europe and beyond.”
Graham Brady MP, Chairman of the 1922 Committee, said: “I know from first-hand experience in my own constituency the huge impact that a thriving airport has on the economy of the surrounding region, as a powerful driver of job creation and growth more widely. It’s imperative that politicians finally set their party interests to one side and forge a cross-party consensus to safeguard and enhance the UK’s economic and social interests. Fifty years of political indecision is inexcusable. The Airports Commission must mark the end of 50 years of indecision: for Britain’s sake we need to get on with the job of building the airport capacity that is so badly overdue.”
Baroness Jo Valentine, Chief Executive of London First, said: “After 50 years of stop-start government mismanagement of our airport infrastructure, the Airports Commission represents the final call for politicians of all parties to step up and sort out the problem. If they don’t, another generation will pass us by while our continental rivals build more runways and bring in more business from the world’s emerging economies. Last year, we saw Germany take our crown as Europe’s leader in attracting foreign investment projects. Do we really want to become an also-ran in the global race?”