A poll conducted by London Chamber of Commerce and Industry has found most businesses in London backing Heathrow in the runway debate, as well as support for HS2 – which would grow if it were properly connected to the airport.
A majority of London businesses (54%) would prefer Heathrow to be expanded compared with 30% backing Gatwick. The finding is part of a survey for the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) by polling company ComRes on a number of key transport issues facing the capital.
The ‘Planes and Trains’ poll of over 500 business leaders also found 31% see more efficient runway operations at Heathrow (including ‘mixed mode’ operations) as the most beneficial short or medium-term means of making best use of existing capacity for their companies, while 17% want extended runway operating hours at Heathrow (including early morning arrivals).
It’s not all Heathrow though. Some 19% think improved railway access into Gatwick would be most valuable to their firms.
‘Easy access via public transport’ was the most important factor determining the choice of airport for business leaders polled, with 61% selecting this as very important, followed by ‘quick processing times’ (58%) and then ‘affordable flight costs’ (56%).
While a majority of London business leaders (55%) say that they support plans for High Speed 2 (HS2), interestingly, of those opposed to HS2, a majority (54%) say that they would be more likely to support the project if the plans included a direct link to Heathrow Airport.
42% of business leaders opposed to HS2 indicate they would be more likely to support it if it was directly linked to High Speed One (HS1).
Asked about the role of infrastructure projects for coping with London’s projected population increase, 44% of London businesses believe Crossrail Two will be very important. A majority (57%) support Transport for London’s tube modernisation plans to close ticket offices in order to help deliver 24-hour tube services and increase investment.
Chief Executive of LCCI Colin Stanbridge said: “Government and the Airports Commission will note London businesses have clear preferences for Heathrow-focused solutions to the airport capacity issue.
“While it is important that the role of the UK’s hub airport is recognised, London Chamber believes that practical future proofing of the UK economy should see new runways built at both Heathrow and Gatwick, in a staggered approach.
“Short-term measures like more early morning arrivals can temporarily boost capacity; however; we need to construct new airport infrastructure to prepare London for challenges ahead. We expect politicians to take a long-term view and anticipate the future demands on the UK.
“This Government has wrestled with getting buy-in for HS2 and while a majority of businesses support current plans, Ministers should take note of the potential for much greater support if HS2 and Heathrow were seamlessly integrated.
“It’s common-sense to integrate our island economy’s key transport networks. As the General Election approaches we await to see what the political parties’ views are on this matter”.