UK losing out on billions in air route race

Marion Dakers
THE UK is missing out on billions of pounds of trade by not linking its airports to the fastest growing parts of the world, according to analysis published by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) today.

As the government’s review of air travel takes its final submissions, the CBI claimed that the country could generate £1bn of additional trade a year by offering flights to the eight biggest high-growth countries.

But capacity constraints at Heathrow and a convoluted planning process mean the UK lags behind many of its European peers when it comes to air links with the likes of China, Mexico and South Korea, the CBI and air bosses believe.

The chief executive of Gatwick warned last week that the south east of England is unlikely to see a new runway until the early 2030s.

“We believe that only one runway will be built at a time. It’s ludicrous to think that Sir Howard [Davies] will fire the starting pistol on all London airports waiting at the starting line in 2015,” Stewart Wingate told a debate hosted by London First.

The Davies Commission gave interested parties until 28 February to express their interest, and a deadline of 15 March to submit information, but will not report its recommendation until after the 2015 general election.