Heathrow pledges to support regional air links

Heathrow pledges to support regional air links

Heathrow has established a £10 million route development fund as part of a series of commitments to develop regional flight connections if it is allowed to expand.

The London hub claims nine new air links can be established as well as frequency increased on the existing seven UK routes.

The airport will also review of airport charges to help keep existing domestic routes commercially attractive to airlines.

The move comes at a time when Amsterdam Schiphol has more links to the UK’s regions than Heathrow and Gatwick combined.

The proposed Heathrow Route Development Fund would provide £10 million in start-up capital for airlines to support five new routes for three years.

The commitments build on a previous announcement by easyJet that it plans to operate from an expanded Heathrow, competing on several existing domestic routes and providing new links to four UK airports.

Heathrow citied Airports Commission analysis as already highlighting that an expanded Heathrow would deliver up to £114 billion in economic benefit outside London and the south-east, double the amount that would be delivered by expanding Gatwick.

Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “Expanding Heathrow could deliver close to 80,000 jobs and up to £114 billion of GDP outside London and the south-east.

“We have been listening to businesses, politicians and now to the National Connectivity Task Force, and today’s announcement shows that we have a plan to deliver what Britain needs.

“Only Heathrow can connect all of Britain to global growth. That’s why we are best for Britain and backed by Britain. Let’s get on with it.”

Saad Hammad, chief executive of Flybe, which sold its Gatwick slots to easyJet and does not operate from Heathrow, said: "Flybe welcomes the commitment of Heathrow to enhance regional connectivity both within current runway capacity constraints and in the event of new runway development.

“As the UK’s largest regional airline, operating Flybe services from 37 UK airports, we are in a prime position to connect the country via Heathrow.

“Our national hub in the south-east must address the needs of all the nations and regions of the UK not just those living within the boundary of the M25.

“Key to this is an airport pricing regime that encourages regional connectivity alongside guaranteed slot availability for regional connecting services.

“We are delighted that Heathrow has listened to the issues faced by the UK regions and is taking practical steps to be more inclusive.”

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