Britain could benefit by more than £50 billion or £1,000 per British citizen by developing a third runway at Heathrow, the Confederation of British Industry annual conference heard today.
Developing an alternative airport hub at Cliffe in Kent or Stansted in Essex, would cost the country billions in lost economic benefits and net less than half of that which could be captured at London Heathrow, leading economist Dr Andrew Sentance warned.
Dr Sentance, British Airways’ Chief Economist, was speaking just days before the end of the government’s consultation on airport infrastructure.
“The government’s own figures show that a new Heathrow runway, plus one other runway in the south east of England, can meet almost 95 per cent of the extra business travel demand over the next 30 years.
“The total economic benefits are more than £50 billion, nearly £1,000 per British citizen,” he said.
Developing a hub airport at Stansted or Cliffe would not deliver economic benefits on this scale.
“The only realistic option for maintaining an internationally competitive aviation hub in Britain is to develop Heathrow further. This cannot be done without environmental conditions and local assurances which make expansion of the airport acceptable to affected communities,” he said.
“To be a competitive aviation hub in the 21st century, an airport needs to have three independent runways and good road and public transport access to local markets.
“These conditions can only realistically be met at Heathrow by moving ahead with the government’s short third runway proposal.
“Aviation is a British success story. For every one job in aviation, four more are supported indirectly across the economy.
“We have the third largest airline industry in the world after the United States and Japan. In how many industries can Britain now make that claim?” he concluded.
The full text of Dr Sentance’s speech can be found on British Airways’ website at ba.com