Government delays runway decision yet again

160630_cgi_of_expanded_gatwick_aerialThe Government is reported to have delayed its decision over where to build a new runway again, adding yet more time for competitors to grow their economies while the UK’s suffers.

The BBC reports the decision will be delayed until a new leader is chosen for the Conservative Party. While this is likely to be at the beginning of September, it represents at best a further delay to a decision which business and economic experts agree is well overdue, and which even anti-airport campaigners would like to see made to end decades of uncertainty.

It is widely accepted that the UK economy is suffering – to a level of around £13bn a year according to one commentator – and that other countries are using our prevarication to move ahead. Heathrow, once the World’s busiest airport, is likely to end the next decade at the bottom of even the european league without expansion.

It has been argued that the recent vote to leave the EU means a quick decision is even more important. Certainly our economy is likely to need all the help it can get both during and after the likely protracted, and economy and confidence damaging negotiations that will follow the referendum vote.

The news of a likely delay comes on the day Gatwick Airport published its latest results which, say the Airport, reinforce why the airport is the “best and only deliverable option for the UK’s next runway”.

As the airport continues to break global records for a single-runway airport, retaining its position as the world’s most efficient, handling a record 265,970 air traffic movements (+4% year on year), it called for a swift decision on airport expansion.

Gatwick has continued to grow its direct long haul routes – recently moving into the premier league of airports with more than 50 global destinations – and, with passenger numbers forecast to continue to increase at a record rate, a Government decision on airport expansion is needed quickly so that Britain can benefit.

CEO Stewart Wingate said the results are the latest demonstration of the support and momentum behind Gatwick and that it has become ever more clear that only Gatwick can deliver a new runway for Britain and the growth the economy needs.

Given the continuing prevarication by Government, and the damage to the economy forecast from our exit from the EU, speed of delivery of additional capacity could, should a decision ever be taken, play a significant part. Gatwick stands ready. A new runway can be delivered by 2025. Given that it would also be cheaper, and affect less people negatively than Heathrow, Gatwick could find itself an increasingly popular choice.

Stewart Wingate, CEO of Gatwick Airport, said: “Gatwick continues to grow and break passenger records for a single runway airport.

“Aviation is changing fast and Gatwick has now entered the premier league of airports with more than 50 long haul routes. This week, the airport started flights to Tianjin in China and in only a matter of weeks will be flying to Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific.

“Aviation growth is outstripping forecasts.  In uncertain times and after decades of delay, only Gatwick can now give Britain certainty that airport expansion can finally happen. Gatwick can have a spade in the ground by 2020 and the first planes flying from a new runway in 2025.

“Today’s results offer a glimpse of the benefits a two-runway Gatwick would deliver for the UK – guaranteed growth with limited environmental impacts and at a cost the country can afford. The time is fast approaching to give expansion at Gatwick the green light so Britain can get the benefits.”

What is clear is that further delay helps no-one, except those who would see our economy damaged, such as the UK’s international competitors – Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt and others whose determination to push our overall international competitivity down the league will not have been lessened by our vote to leave their european club.

Delay makes us all weaker.