Aviation leaders in the United Kingdom have expressed support for Britain’s continued membership of the European Union.
As prime minister David Cameron called a referendum on the country’s place in Europe, Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye led calls for Britain to stay in the union.
Commenting on the European Union’s impact on trade, aviation and British prosperity, he said: “Heathrow believes that the UK will be better off remaining in a reformed EU.
“Membership of the EU has made air travel affordable and convenient, with regular flights to the continent from all parts of Britain - fuelling jobs, exports and economic growth.
“A vote to remain offers the best of both worlds – it secures our place as a powerhouse in the global economy, while remaining in the world’s largest free trade zone.”
Prime minister Cameron confirmed on Saturday Britain will hold an ‘in/out’ referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU on June 23rd.
Adding his voice, Charlie Cornish, chief executive of MAG, owner of Manchester, London Stansted, East Midlands and Bournemouth airports, said: “The EU has benefitted UK consumers and businesses enormously over the last 25 years by opening up the European aviation market to provide greater competition and choice.
“UK airlines now compete successfully on routes right across Europe, taking full advantage of the ‘open skies’ created by the EU.
“In addition to a greater choice of destinations and lower fares, European travellers have also gained in other ways, including safer and more secure travel, the abolition of mobile phone roaming charges, reciprocal health agreements and protection when flights are disrupted.”
In a move described by No 10 as “unprecedented”, chairmen or chief executives of 36 FTSE 100 companies signed the letter backing the campaign to stay in the EU, including BAE Systems and easyJet.
Cameron himself said he would be campaigning to remain in a reformed EU - and described the vote as one of the biggest decisions “in our lifetimes”.
Several members of the cabinet, including Boris Johnson and work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith, have, however, said they will argue for Britain to leave.
In support of membership Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate said: “As one of the biggest businesses in the UK, we and, more importantly, our passengers have benefited from being part of a liberalised market and from the influence being in the EU provides.
“We firmly believe that it is in the interest of passengers, business, and the UK to stay in the European Union.”