Virgin Atlantic welcomes today’s historic decision by the Government to opt for the building of two new runways in the South East over the next 20 years. New runway development will take place at Stansted and at Heathrow as detailed in the White Paper on the Future of Air Transport published today.
Sir Richard Branson, chairman of Virgin Atlantic, commented;
“Alistair Darling has shown real courage in taking the tough
decision to opt for at least two runways and in particular to include Heathrow within his plans for airport expansion over the next three decades. Had Heathrow not been included in the White Paper its pre-eminence in European and World aviation would have been lost, leading to the loss of thousands of jobs to other European airports. Unlike his predecessors the Secretary of Transport hasn’t bottled the big decision and Britain will gain from his belief that the benefits of aviation’s expansion can be achieved with environmental sustainability.
“I am confident that the environmental challenges accompanying expansion can and will be overcome. To avoid being overtaken by the rest of Europe we now need to move quickly in order to ensure that the new runway at Heathrow is operational as soon as possible after 2015.
“We are pleased that the Government has taken the decision to safeguard land for the possible future development of Gatwick. In the meantime, before new runways are built, it makes environmental sense to make the maximum use of our existing capacity by introducing mixed-mode operations at Heathrow. In this respect, Secretary of State’s announcement that there should be a public consultation on mixed-mode is welcome, but we urge all the parties concerned to undertake this as soon as possible.
” We remain totally opposed to cross-subsidisation between London airports. We look to the independent regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, to maintain its current position that those who should benefit from Stansted should pay for its development.”