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Heathrow and Gatwick have been gathering support in the UK regions as they continue the battle to be allowed to build new runways.
Heathrow’s CEO John Holland-Kaye warned that failure to build a third runway meant that northern England was losing out on around £700 million per year in trade, during a speech at the International Festival of Business in Liverpool.
Meanwhile, Gatwick’s chairman Sir Roy McNulty has been visiting Belfast to try to secure backing from Northern Irish politicians and business leaders.
The government is due to make a decision this summer on whether Heathrow or Gatwick will be allowed to build a new runway. Although this decision may be affected by the outcome of next week’s referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union.
Heathrow has unveiled new research from Frontier Economics, which claims that the lack of connectivity between the UK’s hub airport and northern airports is costing the region £710 million in lost trade every year. This figure adds up to £1.7 billion annually across all UK regions.
Holland-Kaye said: “The government is going to struggle with the foundations of the Northern Powerhouse if a third runway isn’t built to support the region’s existing connectivity.
“To rebalance and strengthen the British economy, the UK needs a domestic hub airport that can compete with our unconstrained hub rivals abroad, and that’s something only Heathrow can deliver.”
Gatwick chairman McNulty has managed to secure the backing of Belfast International airport for a second runway at the Sussex airport. He has also written to the leaders of Northern Ireland’s political parties in Westminster offering them a set of commitments.
These promises include the delivery of new capacity to Northern Ireland by 2025, capping passenger charges at £15 and protecting slots for regional services.
McNulty said: “Gatwick believes the people of Northern Ireland deserve to hear the facts about expansion and that’s why we’ve laid out a series of achievable and practical commitments that will be of significant benefit to the aviation sector here. “A network of competing airports throughout the UK is the best way to secure low fares and connections to London.”