Davies: I chose Heathrow because it offers strongest benefits for UK economy

Michael Bow
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HEATHROW’S dominant position for UK freight traffic, focus on long haul flights and better domestic transport links were the decisive factors underpinning Sir Howard Davies’ decision.

The former London School of Economics director said Heathrow expansion would boost the productivity of the UK economy more than Gatwick expansion and offered better strategic benefits.

Building a new runway at Heathrow would boost gross domestic product (GDP) by 0.65 per cent to 0.75 per cent by 2050, or £131bn to £147bn, according to the report. A new runway at Gatwick would boost UK GDP by less, adding around £89bn by 2050.

Heathrow currently carries more freight by value than all of the UK’s other airports combined, the report said, and is 17 times larger compared to Gatwick in tonnage terms and 170 times larger in terms of value.

A vast ecosystem of third party logistic firms has also grown up around Heathrow to support the freight numbers, supporting the airport’s prime position as the UK’s national freight hub, Davies added.

The 64-year old, who is set to become chair of RBS in September, also said Heathrow expansion would help foster stronger links with emerging markets in Asia.

Just four new long haul routes would be added to Gatwick’s roster if the runway was built at the airport, adding 5m seats. In comparison, Heathrow would add 12 long haul flights and 16m seats.

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