The West London business expansion short-list reaction

On Tuesday, the Davies Commission released its eagerly anticipated airport capacity expansion options shortlist, including two at Heathrow.

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Here at yourHeathrow, we asked West London Business CEO Frank Wingate for the local business reaction and what it means for his area and the UK.

West London Business, the Chamber of Commerce for West London, welcomes the findings of the Davies Commission Interim Report, and the politically objective considerations which produced them. We are pleased the Commission has identified two Heathrow options among the three shortlisted: a new north-west runway and an extended northern runway.

These choices recognise the strength and logic of the argument for expanding Heathrow as the UK’s main hub airport. This is the most affordable, quickest and most practical solution to meet the need for additional airport capacity to cater for the UK’s continued economic wellbeing.

WLB is conscious of the critical importance of developing the UK’s hub airport capacity and urges the Commission to keep this as a central principle in its future deliberations.

What does the Commission’s shortlist mean for West London?
The Commission’s findings are good news for the £37 billion West London economy, which is strongly supported by Heathrow’s linkages and activity. Not only does the airport sustain some 170,000 direct and indirect jobs, but it also underpins an extensive supply chain.

In addition, it is a magnet for inward investment, helping bring international corporate brands into West London, who wish to connect with their international markets. A recent report we commissioned with four LEPs (Local Enterprise Partnerships) to the west of Heathrow showed that West London and the Thames Valley combined accounted for 10 per cent of the entire UK economy.

It also pointed out that some 200,000 jobs would be at risk in these highly productive areas if Heathrow was forced to close by building an alternative hub. Clearly, any move leading to the closure of Heathrow would be death sentence for the West London economy as we know it.

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How important is keeping Heathrow as the UK’s “hub”?

A thriving hub airport is an essential ingredient in a successful economy in the global age. It is clear the UK needs greatly improved exports to existing and new markets to power its way out of the current dismal situation. You only have to look at the economic geography of the UK to see that Heathrow is best placed to serve this purpose. There’s only one town of any economic note lying to the east of London in the UK – and that’s Norwich. The Heathrow options satisfy all economic and transport logic.

Business and economic realities show that an economy such as the UK’s, requires a national hub airport – only one – to provide the much-needed long haul connectivity to existing and emerging markets. This connectivity, being rapidly developed by our continental rivals, is vital if we are to improve our export performance in the coming years.

By collecting passengers from various origins to make the large-place long-haul flights viable, only a hub airport can provide this connectivity to those increasingly crucial emerging markets such as China, India and South America. Heathrow is a successful hub and needs to add the additional capacity to continue expanding that role.

“Heathrow is the reason we are where we are, along with the rest of the ihg-tech industry in the Thames Valley. If you think about all the companies in the IT industry between west London and Bristol there is one reason for their location. Of the 2,000 people who are based in our Thames Valley HQ, only about half of them work in the UK business. The other 50% do jobs which are not UK specific, they have roles which involve them in activities across Europe, and sometime globally. One of the main reasons they are here is that they do need to travel more and they are in close proximity to the hub airport.”
- Chris Parker, Senior Director, Law and Corporate Affairs, Microsoft

Where to from here?
In selecting two Heathrow options out of three as serious contenders to solve our aviation roadblock, the Davies Commission is backing an approach West London Business has long supported – invest in success and get on with the job. We look forward to the Commission continuing its independent work, free from political pressures, and following through with the sensible Heathrow answer. It will be good for West London; good for the Southeast; and good for the UK.

- CEO Frank Wingate West London Business
December 19, 2013

WLB

For more information on West London Business see their website: http://www.westlondon.com/ .

 


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