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The UK must “wake up” to the need to expand Heathrow or “continue to recede as a world force”, the head of Dubai airport warned yesterday.
Paul Griffiths, chief executive of Dubai Airports Corporation, told the WTTC Summit in Madrid: “People don’t see the benefits of encouraging tourists by having the infrastructure in place.”
Griffiths pointed out Dubai overtook Heathrow as the world’s largest international airport by passenger numbers last year.
He said: “The difficulty with places where democracy is such a level playing field is people talk about doing something and then talk about it and talk about it.
“In Dubai it is clearly understood there is a link [between tourists and infrastructure].”
Griffiths said: “Aircraft have been a fact of life for decades. You could argue people in west London have never had it so good.
“People have to make a choice. Do they want the benefits [of a major airport]?
“There is a choice to be made and it needs to be balanced. Does the UK want to continue to recede as a world force or be part of a connected world?”
He added: “People rob banks because the money is there. People move to cities because they are connected – they have the ability to fly.
“In Dubai we have 38 times the population going through our airport every year. Is it any wonder we are taking centre stage?
“People have to wake up. There is a cost to not having infrastructure in place.”
Fellow airport boss Howard Eng, president and chief executive at the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, said: “I agree, though we don’t have the problems of London in Toronto. You have to create connectivity.”
He pointed out: “Transfer passengers are not coming by themselves. They take planes that also carry people out of a city.”
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