Businesses calling for action sooner

Marion Dakers

BUSINESSES have renewed their call for faster action on airport expansion as the coalition pledged to wait for the final results of the Davies Commission in 2015 before starting to work on a new runway.

“[A]s the business community knows from experience, our airports simply don’t have enough capacity. Howard Davies has done the country a great service by saying so in words of one syllable,” said Lloyds Banking Group chairman Sir Win Bischoff. “To boost exports and create jobs, we need to act now.”

Bischoff is one of more than 100 business heads to lend his name to the Let Britain Fly campaign, which is urging the government of 2015 to make fast decisions.

CBI boss John Cridland said the shortlist offered “credible and sustainable” options, but said politicians cannot afford to argue or delay once the Davies commission picks a runway.

The Institute of Directors, which is supportive of a new runway at Heathrow, said MPs should be attempting to build a consensus now on the need to expand.

But Nick Baveystock, director general of the Institution of Civil Engineers, said: “Indecision… still blights this issue as questions around the need for a single hub remain unresolved, and the UK continues to slip behind its European rivals.”

More than a fifth of UK-bound journeys by air last year were for business purposes, a Civil Aviation Authority poll shows. This figure rises to 30 per cent at Heathrow.



Economist Sir Howard Davies was named chair of the commission in September 2012, and sits on the boards of insurer Prudential and Phoenix Group. After a stint as deputy governor of the Bank of England he became the first ever chairman of the Financial Services Authority, and is also a McKinsey & Company alumnus and former CBI boss.


National Express chair Sir John Armitt has had a lengthy career in UK infrastructure, including as chief executive of Network Rail, Railtrack and Costain. In October last year he was commissioned by Labour to look at how long-term infrastructure planning could be improved, concluding that Britain is 40 years behind the rest of the world.


An expert on urban design, architecture and city policy, RIcky Burdett is a professor at the London School of Economics and director of its Cities and the Urban Age Programme. He was also a chief adviser for the London 2012 Olympics and architectural adviser to the Mayor from 2001 to 2006.


Vivienne Cox worked for BP for 28 years, including as boss of its gas, power and renewables business. She holds a variety of energy-related board positions, and is a non-executive at Rio Tinto, BG Group and Pearson. Cox is also a director at the Department for International Development.


One of the most senior female engineers in the UK, Dame Julia King spent 12 years at Rolls-Royce before becoming chief executive of the Institute of Physics in 2002. She is also a non-executive board member for BIS, and vice-chancellor of Aston University.


Geoff Muirhead stepped down from the commission after campaigners threatened legal action over his former role as the chief executive of Manchester Airport Group, which owns Stansted. A civil and structural engineer by trade, Muirhead is also chairman of the North West Rail Campaign.

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