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CBI comments on London Assembly report on airport capacity

The CBI has responded to the recent London Assembly report, Airport Capacity in London.

The report suggests existing capacity, including at Heathrow, Luton, Stansted and Gatwick airports, could be used more effectively.

And it calls on the independent Airports Commission to rule out the expansion of Heathrow, when it makes its interim report later this year and final report in 2015.

Rhian Kelly, CBI Director of Business Environment, said:

“We need to make the best use of the existing airport network in the short term.  Airports like Stansted and Luton have the capacity but transport links cannot meet potential demand.

 “We cannot bury our heads in the sand given capacity in London could run out as early as 2025. We need a long-term plan to expand capacity in the South East and it’s wrong to rule out options at this stage.

“Every day we delay expanding our aviation connections, we risk falling further behind our competitors. Firms in high-growth economies are not waiting for us to make a decision before taking their business to countries with much better flight links.”


The CBI said the UK risked missing out on billions of pounds in trade unless it boosted directed flights to the fastest growing economies in the world, in its Trading Places report in March 2013.

The CBI is calling for an urgent plan to expand and maximise airport capacity in the short, medium and long term:

Short-Term (by 2020)

Immediate improvements in surface access to UK airports, maximising efficiency for passengers and freight and boosting the catchment area of the UK’s international airports. This should include:

  • Pressing ahead with delivery of announced measures such as the western rail link from Heathrow and the station upgrade at Gatwick
  • Concerted efforts to address pinch-points in road access to the UK’s network of regional airports including East Midlands, Newcastle and Bristol

Maximising capacity of existing assets if commercially viable, with more flexible ‘mixed mode’ operations at Heathrow.

Medium-Term (delivering in the 2020s)

  • New runway capacity in the south of the UK – at Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Birmingham or elsewhere – subject to review of the most feasible option to address current constraints at Heathrow.
  • A strategy to increase public transport access to UK airports from 40% to 60% by 2030, supported by new rail links to improve access to key airports such as links to Manchester through a new Northern Hub.

Long-Term (to deliver from 2030)

Explore all options for expanding hub capacity in the South East, including a new airport for London, to meet long-term demand for passenger and freight and support trade growth with new emerging markets. A successful hub must include:

  • Sufficient runway and terminal capacity to accommodate future demand projections, domestic flight connections from UK ‘spokes’ and headroom to ensure resilience.
  • Excellent connectivity to London and the wider UK transport network, including motorway and high-speed rail links.

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