Politicians anticipating a long-awaited decision on an expansion of either Heathrow or Gatwick airports have turned up the heat on the U.K.’s new Prime Minister, Theresa May. A report by a cross-party Commons body claims that vacillation over a new runway is costing the UK up to US$7.9 million a day.
The pressure has been ratcheted up thanks to a report released over the weekend by the British Infrastructure Group (BIG) subtitled, “a final call for U.K. airport expansion to protect Britain’s businesses, economy and jobs.” The organization is led by Conservative MP Grant Shapps, who urged the new Prime Minister to demonstrate her “mettle” by making a decision.
BIG makes seven specific recommendations, although they do not state where a new runway should be built. Instead, the group argues that postponing the decision is harming Britain’s businesses, its economy and job creation.
The group urges May to, “make an urgent and immediate decision on hub airport expansion. The problem of capacity at the current hub, Heathrow, is causing substantial damage to the industry as a whole. It erodes confidence in the government’s stated ambition of growing the economy and our international trade. The evidence has been gathered by the Airport Commission. Now a decision is needed, to show the new leadership’s mettle.”
The report also calls for substantial change across the country, such as an expansion of regional airports and lowering the Airport Passenger Duty (APD). This aviation tax, the group points out, “is many times the rate of similar taxes in European competitors and trading partners, such as the USA. In fact, the tax rate is higher than in any other country except Chad.”
Other recommendations include a new approach to regulation and improved funding for startups. The report finds that regulations in the U.K. overwhelmingly favor large airports, with smaller airports unable to “enjoy the same economies of scale.”