UK could land £1bn a year with improved air links, claims CBI

UK trade would get a £1bn-a-year boost if there was just one extra flight a day to the eight fastest-growing world destinations, the CBI said in a report out today.

It claimed that the UK is failing to keep pace with major European competitors in winning new direct air connections to countries such as Brazil, Russia and China.

In the short term, the UK should improve access to UK airports and maximise capacity at Heathrow, the report said.

In the medium term, there should be new runway capacity in southern England, while in the long term (from 2030), a new airport for London should be among the options.

Measures covering the next few years will be outlined in an interim report – due at the end of this year – from the Government-appointed Davies Commission on aviation.

The commission is due to publish its full report in the summer of 2015 – after the next general election.

CBI chief policy director Katja Hall said: “Boosting exports is critical to our long-term growth. Every day we delay expanding our 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.”

Aviation Minister Simon Burns said: “This Government is determined to find a lasting solution to maintain the UK’s global aviation hub status and secure the kind of benefits that the CBI has identified.

“Our approach is to build a strong political consensus so we can plan for the future. A rushed decision is not an option.”