With a Government decision on airport expansion imminent, CEO of Birmingham Airport Paul Kehoe has today declared support for Gatwick Airport’s expansion plan.
In a major intervention in the debate, Mr Kehoe said that a new Gatwick runway, when compared to the alternative Heathrow option, would lead to “greater competition and choice across the UK’s long-haul airports, allowing Birmingham Airport to continue to grow and fire the Midlands Engine.”
Paul Kehoe explained that, whether people are flying for business or leisure, they want to fly direct from their airport of choice. With Birmingham experiencing fourteen months of record growth and announcing twelve new airlines in the past year, it is clear a network of long-haul airports, linking all regions into global growth opportunities, is what is required.
He said the following: “The decision on where the South East’s next runway should be built is of national significance. It not only affects London but passengers and businesses across the UK as well. Of the two options before the Government, we support Gatwick’s expansion plan because it will foster greater competition among airports and allow other UK long-haul airports to continue to compete and grow their own direct services. Heathrow’s plan could constrain this growth with the direct international connections that airports like Birmingham have fought for being lost to west London. A decision for Heathrow would simply mean a return to the monopoly of the past, reducing choice, increasing fares and threatening the business of Birmingham and other UK airports.”
Gatwick Airport CEO Stewart Wingate said: “Expansion at Gatwick will deliver exactly the same number of passengers to the same number of worldwide destinations as expanding Heathrow. The only difference is that, with Gatwick expansion, those connections are better spread across the UK’s major airports, including Birmingham. Expanding Gatwick will enhance competition between UK airports, providing a low-cost alternative that serves the London and South-East market, but doesn’t cannibalise future growth from regional airports. For the UK to achieve truly balanced economic growth, aviation policy must nurture growth in direct flights from airports such as Birmingham, instead of using taxpayers’ money to concentrate our global connections in West London. Gatwick expansion is also the most deliverable option – it is a cheaper, faster and simpler scheme that will maximise the UK’s connectivity sooner, at lower cost for users. We must choose the option that best meets the needs of the future and can continue to encourage this growth and that is Gatwick.”
It is quite an interesting thing to see other airports endorse each other for such expansions. Is this more of a political game considering Birmingham hasn’t had the opportunity to expand and considering they play a vital role in connecting the rest of the country to London and Manchester? We can only find out and wait.