John Holland-Kaye: Airport's growth means Yorkshire is able to fly high

THERE is a reason Yorkshire is often referred to as '˜God's own county'. Its powerhouse cities are vital to the UK economy, its world-leading universities educate students from across the globe, it is one of the country's fastest growing regions for exports and its dales are an iconic part of the British landscape, attracting tourists from across Britain and the world. Yorkshire gave us Marks & Spencer, the world's first football club and the steel for Heathrow's new Terminal 2.

A decision is imminent on the proposed third runway for Heathrow Airport.

Heathrow and Yorkshire are linked via Leeds Bradford Airport. These two airports complement each other because together they provide the domestic and international connections Yorkshire needs to thrive.

Leeds Bradford connects Yorkshire to important short-haul destinations and gives a choice of hub connections. As Britain’s hub airport, Heathrow pools demand from airports across the UK and much of Europe, allowing it to sustain frequent flights to global destinations.

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The Heathrow route is an important link for Yorkshire, with 51 per cent of passengers using it for onward, worldwide connections. It is also a route that I was delighted to see restored after it was briefly lost in 2011, but which I want to see strengthened and safeguarded. The only way to do this is if we expand Heathrow.

We have the opportunity in front of us to fulfil the full potential of this great county and make Yorkshire one of the most globally competitive regions in the world.

That starts with more and better-timed flights between Yorkshire and Heathrow. Expansion means Heathrow will have the capacity for a much needed early morning flight to Leeds Bradford Airport – giving Yorkshire a more convenient connection to London and destinations across the globe.

An expanded Heathrow will connect to up to 40 new regular long haul routes, helping Yorkshire access markets that are today out of reach in Asia, Africa and South America. These new links will also make the region more accessible and attractive, providing a host of new opportunities for inward investment, students and tourists.

For Yorkshire exporters, expansion will allow them to take their goods further and grasp the opportunities that exist in the world’s new and emerging markets. At Heathrow we handle 29 per cent of all non-EU UK exports by value compared to Gatwick’s 0.2 per cent. It’s what makes us Britain’s biggest port by value and why we play an unparalleled role in transporting British exports across the world.

It is for these reasons that Heathrow expansion will deliver a massive economic boost for Yorkshire, including £9bn in economic growth and up to 11,200 new jobs. And we will deliver all of this for Yorkshire while being fair to our neighbours. That includes meeting or exceeding all of the 11 tough environmental conditions set out by the Airports Commission, such as a commitment to no more cars on the road, no scheduled night flights from 11pm-5.30am, a £1bn compensation package for local people and growth in accordance with air quality rules.

This month I was delighted to announce we could add 25,000 new flights each year on current runways from 2021 if selected for expansion. We’re proposing some of this capacity be ring-fenced for UK regions and global trading routes. This could provide more and better-timed flights from Leeds Bradford and perhaps even a new direct link to Humberside. And to support the latter, we’ve set aside £10m in start-up capital that airlines can use to launch domestic routes into Heathrow.

New analysis shows that the early release of these flights would create around £55bn more growth than an expanded Gatwick in the first 15 years after leaving the EU, with Heathrow delivering £58.8bn whilst Gatwick would deliver only £4bn in the same period. Only Heathrow can deliver that benefit, helping the UK’s regions succeed, earlier, and showing the world our nation is open for business.

But Heathrow has a role to play in supporting Yorkshire’s success today, not just with expansion. That’s why we’re putting in place a £10 discount for passengers on domestic flights from January 2017, making it cheaper for passengers to get to Yorkshire and more commercially viable for airlines to operate Yorkshire flights. This year we also hosted our second successful Business Summit in Leeds, strengthening Heathrow’s ties with Yorkshire SMEs by giving them direct access to our supply chain – which spends £1.5bn annually with UK suppliers. With expansion, we want to have even more of our supply chain in Yorkshire.

It is for these reasons that here in Yorkshire we have the support of Leeds Bradford Airport, local Chambers of Commerce and MPs from across the House, like Angela Smith and Philip Davies.

We stand on the brink of an opportunity to help reshape Britain as a powerhouse nation, unlocking the full potential of our thriving regional economies, like Yorkshire. I’m confident that expanding Heathrow will make Britain stronger and fairer, putting our regions in the best position to trade and prosper.

John Holland-Kaye is CEO of Heathrow Airport.