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UK regions and nations will be boosted by a new runway in the southeast if some additional slots are used to increase domestic flights, a new study shows.
The report, 'The Importance of Domestic Connectivity', by pro-expansion campaign group Let Britain Fly, is the result of discussions with regional business leaders and politicians held in cities across the UK about what airport expansion in London and the southeast means for them.
Stakeholders from cities including Leeds, Newcastle, Belfast, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Liverpool backed a new runway, the report found.
But this support was predicated on local airports around the country being able to offer a greater number of flight connections to and from the capital and onto key international markets.
The number of domestic destinations served at least weekly from Heathrow has fallen from 19 to 8 since 1990, a trend reflected across all London airports.
If the number of domestic flights from London was increased as a result of building new runways, the connectivity has the potential to boost tourism, trade, investment and attract more international talent to cities right across the UK, in turn creating jobs and growth, the report argues.
Both Heathrow and Gatwick Airports have shown their commitment to increasing domestic air links by pledging millions of pounds to support regional routes if they are chosen for expansion.
The Airports Commission’s final report which will recommend a location for a new runway in the southeast is due to be published this summer.
Let Britain Fly director, Gavin Hayes, said: “We urge the new government to make a swift decision on airport expansion, as our report demonstrates a lack of airport capacity in the south-east not only has economic ramifications for London, but for the whole of the UK; one manifestation of this has been a decline in the number of domestic routes from the capital’s airports to other key cities across the country.
“Air connectivity between London and the regions and nations of the UK is therefore a critical issue that must be robustly addressed in the Airports Commission’s forthcoming final report. Particularly if any recommendation is to win not just cross-party, but cross-country political support.
“The clear view from the nations and regions is that the Commission must recommend a solution that spreads the economic benefit to every part of the country.
“One idea would be to ensure that when new runways are finally built, some of the additional slots generated from expansion are used to maintain and enhance domestic connectivity with the capital.”
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