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GTMC responds to Heathrow consultation

Adrian Parkes, CEO of GTMC

Following the news that the government has re-opened a public consultation on a third runway at Heathrow airport after it released its latest conditions for granting planning permission, GTMC chief executive Adrian Parkes has issued a statement weighing in on the topic from a business travel perspective.

The government’s latest Airports NPS follows an initial consultation in which members of the public voiced their concerns, and lays out several conditions that would have to be met for permission to be given to start planning a third runway, including establishing more domestic routes.

Parkes says the new report “demonstrates a strong argument for expansion at Gatwick”, commenting that a second runway there would offer “substantial” financial benefit to the UK.

“As the voice of the business traveller, the GTMC has been calling for airport expansion in the south east as vital for the UK’s continued economic growth for some time,” Parkes said. “We urge that decisions are made quickly so the best developments for the UK economy are made as soon as possible. Our research alongside Oxford Economics demonstrates that just a 1 per cent increase in international air business travel – which can only be achieved by airport expansion at Heathrow or Gatwick, but preferably both – will deliver £400 million in knock-on economic benefits.”

Transport secretary Chris Grayling delayed the government’s decision on the issue following the snap general election. This new consultation will end on December 19, after which point a final version of the Airports NPS will be drafted and submitted to a parliamentary vote in early 2018.

“Any further delay is frustrating and curtailing the growth potential of UK businesses,” Parkes continued. “New analytics demonstrate that the vital financial reward to the UK economy from the expansion is greater than originally thought, and this requires serious consideration. We urge the UK government to commit to airport expansion for the long term in the south east without any further delay.”

One reason the government has given for supporting expansion at Heathrow as opposed to Gatwick is the upcoming transport links to the airport via HS2 and Crossrail. BBT asked Parkes to comment on this side of the argument, to which he responded that a key part of the GTMC’s campaign to increase investment in the UK’s transport network includes improvements in connectivity to major airports.

“Doubtless Gatwick, Heathrow and regional airports outside of London and the south east are not reaching their full potential as a result of poor transport links,” he told BBT. “Whilst we welcome the government’s decision to increase airport capacity, to do so without due care and attention given to ongoing transport links on the ground – not just to the capital but to other regions – is short-sighted and frustrating for the business traveller. We would urge the government to pay more attention to this in the future.”

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