Virgin Atlantic president Sir Richard Branson has renewed calls for the government to be “brave enough” to take a firm decision on the expansion of Heathrow.
Speaking during the inaugural celebrations for Virgin’s short-haul offshoot Little Red in Edinburgh, Branson said positive moves on airport capacity could “pull a country out of recession”.
“I’ve been saying for 30 years that we need more runway space and we need a government that is brave enough to make a decision and get on with it,” he said.
“We should get at least two (additional runways) built at Heathrow as fast as possible while thinking about other options to the west and east.”
Branson said the current “stagnation”, with Heathrow operating the same number of runways as during the second world war, was “holding Great Britain back”.
He added: “It should be funded by private enterprise, so it is not as if the government should have to put its hand in its pocket.
“The contribution to GDP would be enormous, and in itself could pull a country out of recession.”
New Virgin Atlantic chief executive Craig Kreeger, who joined the company from American Airlines, said a number of other European countries had been more forward thinking in recognising the economic benefits of developing improved airport facilities.
A decision on airport capacity has been deferred pending the findings of the Davies Commission, which is not due to report in full until 2015.