Airports Commission recommendation: The reaction

Airports Commission recommendation: The reaction

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Abta welcomed today’s Airports Commission recommendation that a third runway should be built at Heathrow.

Chief executive, Mark Tanzer, said:  “Increasing airport capacity is essential to the UK’s growth and global competitiveness; we are pleased that this recommendation has been arrived at through fair, transparent, and thorough processes and consultations.

“Today’s announcement is the first step towards the delivery of urgently needed capacity at the UK’s hub airport and we now look forward to the government’s response.

“We call on government to work across party boundaries and create a robust political consensus which will deliver this recommendation for UK businesses, and passengers.

“Abta will be working with the government, as well as the opposition front benches to help build consensus.”

Board of Airline Representatives in the UK (BAR UK)

Dale Keller, chief executive of BAR UK, said: “The government now needs to evaluate the independent findings of the Airports Commission and to expediently act upon their recommendations.

“Now is the time for everyone, including politicians of all parties, to pull together in the national interest and support the bold plans to expand and improve airport infrastructure at Heathrow in order to maintain the UK’s position as Europe’s most important aviation hub

“Since the major cost of funding the expansion will ultimately be borne by passengers, it is essential that the final scheme is viable and cost-effective for future generations and does not burden today’s passengers with excessive airport charges.”

BAR UK said airlines will work closely with government to achieve “the best possible solution” for the UK’s future air passenger and cargo needs.

Guild of Travel Management Companies (GTMC)

Paul Wait, chief executive of the GTMC, said: “It is encouraging to see the Commission recognises the value of increased airport capacity to the future growth of the UK economy and the recommendation of a third runway at Heathrow is hugely positive news for business travellers, TMCs and UK PLC.

“Our own research within the business travel community proves there is a very real and present need for airport expansion in the south east. Indeed over a third (36 per cent) back expansion at Heathrow, whilst a quarter supported the idea of expansion at both Heathrow and Gatwick.

“Expansion at Heathrow will realise the ambition of direct routes to long-haul and, more importantly, emerging markets – therefore negating the need to travel via other hubs across Europe which has been a long standing issue as a barrier to international trade.

“With the focus on Heathrow it is also important to recognise the role that Gatwick can play in delivering additional capacity. Whilst it does have capacity for long haul there is often a reliance on connecting hubs which means business travel is more of a challenge.

“Our own election manifesto called on the new government to adopt the recommendations of the Airports Commission as policy as soon as it reported. That time is now and with the positive recommendations in place we look forward to swift and decisive action that will turn those recommendations into reality.”

British Hospitality Association (BHA)

Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of The British Hospitality Association, said: “We have run out of time for further debate on where we increase our airport capacity, a vital component to sustaining the growth the hospitality and tourism industry is contributing to the UK economy.

“Politics has delayed this decision for long enough and now we call on the Government to take decisive action and tell us when construction will begin to build additional runway capacity.”

Confederation of British Industry (CBI)

CBI director general, John Cridland, said: “Now that Sir Howard’s Commission has made its recommendation, the government must commit to the decision now, and get diggers in the ground at Heathrow swiftly by 2020.

“Growing airport capacity in the southeast is absolutely critical to the whole of the UK’s economic future – it simply isn’t an optional ‘nice to do’.

“Each day the government delays taking the decision, the UK loses out as our competitors reap the rewards and strengthen their trade links.

“Creating new routes to emerging markets will open doors to trade, boosting growth, creating jobs and driving investment right across the country.

“Our research shows that eight new daily routes alone could boost exports by up to £1 billion a year.

“The UK’s economic future cannot be kept waiting on the tarmac any longer. By taking the decision now, the government can send the message, loud and clear, that Britain is open for business.”

British Airline Pilots’ Association

Jim McAuslan, general secretary of the British Airline Pilots’ Association, said: “Davies was given the difficult task of analysing the UK’s capacity needs and has done his job well.

“We would encourage the government to follow suit and act swiftly for the good of the country.

“Davies stresses the importance of the new runway for the UK economy and jobs and we need to make sure the extra capacity benefits Britain and is not simply exploited by our competitors.

“Delivering the new airport capacity within the noise and environmental limits set by Davies will be a challenge and pilots stand ready to assist with the design to help minimise these impacts and ensure flight operations are safe.”


UKinbound chief executive, Deirdre Wells OBE, said: “UKinbound is delighted to welcome today’s recommendation to build a new runway at London Heathrow.

Heathrow is our gateway to the globe and a hub for businesses and tourists from across the world and this expansion is vital to maintaining the world-class air connectivity that the UK benefits from.

The key thing now will be for the Government to act swiftly to implement the Davies Commission’s recommendations in order to facilitate the current demand that is only going to grow further.

Tourism is the UK’s third biggest employer and given that overseas visitor spending accounts for £22 billion in export earnings, an investment in the UK’s airport capacity is surely an investment in the future of the UK economy.

By increasing capacity, it is even likely that by 2020, visitor numbers could almost double, cementing Britain as a market leader. UKinbound is encouraged that a second runway at Gatwick is still a ‘credible’ option.

With the UK tourism industry forecast predicting a rapid growth, we ask the Government to develop an infrastructure to match the demand for the UK as a key destination for leisure and business.”

Institute of Travel and Meetings (ITM)

“The Airports Commission’s decision to back construction of a third runway at Heathrow is positive news. However, the business, aviation and travel sectors must be realistic about progress. The proposals set out by Lord Howard Davies are only recommendations.

Politicians in Westminster must now demonstrate courage, desire and vision if work is ever to start. Senior Conservative MPs such as Boris Johnson, Philip Hammond, Theresa May, Justine Greening and Zak Goldsmith are all vehemently opposed to Heathrow expansion, which will make it difficult for the incumbent government to act upon Davies’ proposals.

“The caveats built into Lord Davies proposal will give those opposed to a third runway yet more scope to block progress. It is right that airports and airlines are challenged to be as environmentally responsible as possible.

“But there must also be recognition of the great strides the aviation sector has made in this area over recent years, and the millions that are invested in sustainability projects every year.

“As UK airports start to fill up, our competitors in Europe are moving ahead. The UK has been relegated to 4th or 5th position for new routes to China, Brazil and Russia from the EU in the last 20 years.

“While ITM believes a third runway at Heathrow is top priority for the UK economy, it is not enough in the long term. A second runway is also needed at Gatwick, and investment must be made to improve capacity at other airports in the south and across the regions.

“If the UK wants to remain competitive on the international stage expanding our main hub at Heathrow is fundamental.”

London Heathrow airport

Heathrow chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, said: “This debate has never been about a runway, it’s been about the future we want for Britain.

“Expanding Heathrow will keep Britain as one of the world’s great trading nations, right at the heart of the global economy.

“Our new plans have been designed around the needs of local communities and will meet carbon, air quality and noise targets, and provides the greatest benefit to the UK’s connectivity and its long term economic growth.

“We will create the world’s best connected, most efficient and most environmentally responsible hub airport at the heart of an integrated transport system.

“The Commission has backed a positive and ambitious vision for Britain.  We will now work with government to deliver it.”

London Gatwick airport

Gatwick chief executive, Stewart Wingate, said: “Gatwick is still very much in the race. The Commission’s report makes clear that expansion at Gatwick is deliverable.

“It is for the Commission to make a recommendation but it is of course for the government to decide. So we now enter the most important stage of the process.

“We are confident that when the government makes their decision they will choose Gatwick as the only deliverable option.”

“It also cannot be right that effectively creating a monopoly at Heathrow will be better for competition than expansion at Gatwick. It goes against everything that we all know about the success of airport liberalisation in recent years,” Wingate added.

“Of course the UK needs the economic benefits of expansion. But the country cannot fly to new markets from a runway that can never be built. Expansion at Gatwick will be quicker, simpler and quieter. It will promote greater competition benefitting all passengers whilst limiting the environmental impact.

“The choice ahead is clear. Choose Gatwick and – after decades of delay – something can actually happen. Choose Heathrow and nothing will happen. It will simply be Groundhog Day.”

London Luton airport

Nick Barton, chief executive of London Luton Airport, said: “There can be no doubt that the nearly-350 page report is fully comprehensive and has examined all sides of the debate. We welcome its publication; now the politicians must deliver.

“The report makes clear that a new runway may not be available for several years, yet London’s airport system needs to grow and thrive in the meantime. We’re currently investing £100m to meet the growing demand for air travel in the short-medium term.

“Even with the addition of a seventh London runway, according to the DfT’s own projections capacity by 2030 will still struggle to meet demand. That means we need to realise the full potential of the runways we already have.

“London needs an integrated transport plan focused, particularly on rail connections, to improve transport links to and from London’s airports and free up the additional capacity the UK so vitally needs.”

Glasgow airport

Amanda McMillan, managing director of Glasgow airport, said: “We welcome the findings of the Airports Commission which has unanimously backed a third runway at Heathrow.

“The ability of Scotland to maintain and increase its global competitiveness is dependent on having air links with established and emerging markets and Heathrow plays a hugely important role in facilitating this.

“Glasgow Airport will actively seek to secure direct links with hub airports throughout Europe and beyond. However, Scotland’s population is of a size which means it can only ever sustain a certain number of direct flights.

“It is for this reason we support the expansion of Heathrow, however, an expanded Heathrow must deliver further access for Glasgow and Scotland.

“We would call on the UK Government to act swiftly and implement the findings of the Airports Commission.”

Edinburgh airport

A spokesperson for Edinburgh airport said: “We’re disappointed with today’s announcement. We’ve been clear in our argument that expansion at Heathrow is not deliverable and as a result there can be no increased capacity in the southeast.

“Long-haul flights can’t fly from a runway that won’t be built. “Gatwick is the more deliverable option for Scottish passengers and we’re urging the government to make a quick decision on this.”


Ryanair’s chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs, said: “Ryanair believes that the proposed Heathrow runway – which won’t be delivered for 10 or 15 years – won’t solve the runway capacity crisis in the southeast.

“Ryanair strongly advocates taking politicians out of runway decision making and allowing each of the three London airports, Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, to build 3 competing runways which will solve the capacity crisis in the southeast for the next 100 years, while at the same time allowing competition between the airports to deliver this capacity efficiently.

“It remains a fact that additional runways in Stansted and Gatwick can and will be delivered much earlier than any Heathrow third runway.”

London Mayor Boris Johnson

London Mayor Boris Johnson said expanding Heathrow would involve much more noise over London.

“Heathrow airport contributes more to noise pollution than any other airport in Europe by a factor of 10,” he told the BBC. “About a million people would suffer noise pollution.”

He described Heathrow expansion as “short termed and catastrophic” and reiterated his support for a new four-runway new airport in the Thames estuary.

Let Britain Fly campaign group

Gavin Hayes, director of pro-airport expansion group Let Britain Fly, said: “After the best part of three years rigorously examining all of the evidence the view of the Airports Commission is that Britain needs a new runway and that the best option is to expand Heathrow.

“It’s now time for the government to hit the ground running and quickly give the green light to airport expansion.

“With Heathrow, our only international hub airport, already full for a decade and all of London’s other airports forecast to be full within the next ten years, there is no alternative but to now get on with it. As this report shows there’s no runway left for the can to be kicked along.

“First and foremost it’s now time UK political leaders put the long-term national interest over short-term political needs.”

He added: “We also support the Commission’s view that the government should establish an independent Aircraft Noise Authority to help address the concerns of local people.

“Whilst the government will now want time to properly consider the findings of the final report it should use this opportunity to immediately back the view of the Commission that a new runway is required, setting out a clear direction of travel towards a final decision.

“This should then be followed within six months by a statement that sets out a clear timetable for building the new runway.

“The government should also commit to an early Parliamentary decision to take place by summer 2016 at the latest.”

Anti-expansion group Hacan

John Stewart, chairman of anti-Heathrow expansion group Hacan, said: “Heathrow faces the mother of all challenges to meet the conditions set by Davies.”

He added that a third runway at Heathrow was the most expensive of the three shortlisted options.

Business travel management firm Concur

David Vine, senior director at Concur, said: “This is a decision marred in controversy, but either way it went there would have been outcry from some quarters.

“The main thing is that this is going to be a much needed investment in UK infrastructure, which has been creaking for some time now.

“A third runway is especially good news for small-and-medium-sized companies who are trying to grow their businesses.

“In the short term, companies in and around Heathrow will benefit and longer term, this additional 40 destinations will help businesses to reach and connect with new audiences. That is vital for the UK to remain a key figure in the globalised economy.

“Whilst the Government has said it will respond to the report in the autumn the bottom line is that businesses will benefit.”


Loella Pehrsson, regional director of UK, Ireland & the Nordics at KAYAK, said: “The Airports Commission has recommended that a third runway at Heathrow is the best way to expand the UK’s airport capacity.

“This will increase the amount of traffic going to Heathrow; however it will be interesting to see if this has any impact on flight price for travellers flying from the airport or even from Gatwick airport​.

“We recently carried out a pricing analysis of flights from Gatwick and Heathrow airport and on average, short-haul flights departing from Gatwick airport were 19% cheaper than a flight departing from Heathrow.

“Gatwick also came in cheaper on some long-haul destinations. Despite this, Heathrow was found to be the most popular airport with 87% of travellers searching for long-haul flights through Heathrow airport as opposed to Gatwick.”


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