Today is a landmark day for the UK’s aviation sector as MPs will vote in Parliament on whether to give Heathrow Airport the green light to expand and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has urged them to approve the plans.
IATA has called on UK Parliamentarians to vote in favor of the Airports National Policy Statement (NPS) and if approved, it would pave the way for a third runway to be built at the UK hub as part of a £14 billion expansion plan. MPs will vote on expansion from 2.30pm today (UK time).
IATA’s regional vice president for Europe, Rafael Schvartzman said: “We urge the members of the UK parliament to vote in favor of the NPS. A global Britain needs a hub airport ready to seize the opportunities of an increasingly interconnected world.
“The number of air passengers is set to double in the next 20 years. The question is whether Britain wants to take its share of these new travelers, who would bring massive economic and social benefits to the UK.”
IATA says the position of Heathrow as the dominant hub for international traffic in Europe has steadily declined over the past two decades, as opportunities to grow at the congested airport become scarce.
Schvartzman added: “Ten years ago, Heathrow was the world’s third biggest airport. Now it is the seventh largest. In 1995 Paris Charles de Gaulle had about half as many passengers as Heathrow. Today, it has only 11% fewer passengers.
“On current trends, by 2025 – the soonest a new runway could be built—Heathrow’s competitive edge will have been further eroded. It’s time for MPs to end years of dither and delay and vote for a strong, connected Britain.”
Airlines UK, which represents UK carriers said it is “now or never” for expansion and chief executive, Tim Alderslade said: “It is now or never for Heathrow expansion and the prospect of a bigger and better hub airport – there can be no turning back if the vote is lost – and we hope MPs will recognise this and provide the all-important political support that is needed to take the scheme to the next stage.
“Airlines are clear that they will respond to the unlocking of capacity by creating new routes and providing consumers with more choice and frequency – including to regional airports within the UK. The country desperately needs a new runway if it is to cater for future demand from passengers and cargo customers and enable us to do business in new markets and destinations overseas – this will be all important as we prepare to leave the EU.
“The benefits are there for all to see – £74 billion to passengers and the wider economy, tens of thousands of new jobs and a huge expansion in capacity for goods – and we cannot afford to let these slip away.
“What is clear, however, is that if MPs vote against expansion in the House we will never reach this stage and the benefits of a new runway – to consumers, businesses and UK plc more generally – will be lost for ever.”