Bosses from Britain’s top companies call for ‘quick decision on airports expansion’

Sixty business leaders, including many from FTSE 100 listed companies, have signed a statement calling on political parties to offer manifesto commitments that pledge ‘a quick decision on airports expansion’.

The statement, coordinated by pro-expansion group Let Britain Fly, has been published to coincide with the end of the Airports Commission’s public consultation on the three short-listed options for airports expansion.

On releasing the statement Gavin Hayes, Director of Let Britain Fly said: “On modernising our airports infrastructure the voice of business is clear, we want UK political leaders to commit in their manifestos to a quick decision on airports expansion, such a pledge will be critical to parties seeking to win the trust and confidence of the business community at the forthcoming election.” 

The statement reads: “This week the Airports Commission’s public consultation on the three short-listed options for airports expansion came to an end after a highly contested debate.

We support the Commission in reflecting on its findings and coming up with the right evidence-based solution. However we are concerned that unless politicians act swiftly on airports expansion, the growing cost of deferring a strategy to deliver new runways, which is costing our economy billions in trade and investment, will only increase.

This debate isn’t just about where we lay three thousand metres of concrete for a runway, it’s about how we secure our future economic prosperity. The fact is the UK trades twenty times more with countries with which we have a direct air link and forty per cent of our exports by value go by air.

The need for additional runway capacity could not be more evident. Heathrow has been full for a decade, Gatwick will be full by 2020 and all of London’s main airports will be at near full capacity by the end of the 2020s without new runways.

Meanwhile our global competitors are racing ahead. By 2036 the world’s major cities are likely to have built over fifty new runways, providing an additional one billion passenger journeys a year. China alone will have built seventeen new runways, whilst the new Dubai World Central airport will provide more capacity than all of London’s airports combined.

Only last month Dubai International overtook Heathrow as the world’s busiest airport, evidence that Britain is already becoming progressively less competitive as a global aviation hub. Indeed, as any good business person knows, those who stand still get left behind.

This is why we believe that ahead of the General Election, political parties should publicly commit in their manifestos to ‘a quick decision on airports expansion guided by the Commission’s final recommendations’. When it comes to airports expansion it’s time for less political conversation and more political action.”

The full list of signatories includes:

Martin Gilbert, Chief Executive, Aberdeen Asset Management

Nick Roberts, Chief Executive Officer, Atkins

Surinder Arora, CEO, Arora Holdings

George Weston, Chief Executive Officer, Associated British Foods

Heather Lishman, Association Manager, ABPCO
Dale Keller, Chief Executive, BARUK

Harold Paisner, Senior Partner, Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP

Bob Rothenberg MBE, Blick Rothenberg LLP

Ufi Ibrahim, Chief Executive, British Hospitality Association

Richard Fursland CBE, CEO, BritishAmerican Business

Chris Grigg, Chief Executive, British Land

Michael Hirst OBE, Chairman, Business Visits and Events Partnership

Hugh Seaborn, Chief Executive, Cadogan

Stephen Catlin, Chairman, Catlin Group

Sir George Iacobescu CBE, Chairman, Canary Wharf Group

Iain Anderson, Chief Corporate Counsel, Cicero Group

Mark Boleat, Chairman of Policy and Resources Committee, City of London Corporation

Professor Paul Curran, Vice-Chancellor, City University London

John Burns, Chief Executive, Derwent London

Kevin Murphy, Chairman, ExCeL London

Mike Cherry, National Policy Chairman, FSB

Theo de Pencier, Chief Executive, Freight Transport Association

Sue Brown, Senior Managing Director, FTI Consulting

Hugh Bullock, Senior Partner, Gerald Eve LLP

Mike Turner CBE, Chairman, Babcock International Group

Gordon Clark, Country Manager, Global Blue

Toby Courtauld, Chief Executive, Great Portland Estates

Mark Preston, Chairman, Grosvenor

Michael Ward, Managing Director, Harrods

Nicola Shaw, Chief Executive Officer, HS1

Michael Spencer, CEO, ICAP

John Lehal, Managing Director, Insight Public Affairs

Simon Walker, Director General, Institute of Directors

Richard Solomans, Chief Executive, InterContinental Hotels Group

George Kessler CBE, Group Deputy Chairman, Kesslers International

Andrew Murphy, Retail Director, John Lewis

John Stewart, Chairman, Legal and General Group

Robert Elliott, Chairman, Linklaters

Baroness Jo Valentine, Chief Executive, London First

Sir Winfried Bischoff

Mark Reynolds, Chief Executive, Mace

James Fennell, Managing Director, Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners

Richard Dickinson, Chief Executive, New West End Company

James Rook, Managing Director, Nimlok

Adrian Shooter CBE, Chairman, Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership

Glen Moreno, Chairman, Pearson

Mark Bensted OBE, Managing Director, Powerday

John Rhodes OBE, Director, Quod

Mark Lancaster, Chairman, SDL

David Sleath, Chief Executive Officer, SEGRO

Paul Kelly, Chief Executive, Selfridges

Sue Rimmer OBE, Chief Executive, South Thames College

Tim Hancock, Managing Director, Terence O’Rourke

Victor Chavez, Chief Executive Officer, Thales UK

Rebecca Kane, General Manager, The O2

Bill Moore CBE, Chief Executive Officer, The Portman Estate

Ric Lewis, Chief Executive, Tristan Capital Partners

Vincent Clancy, Chief Executive Officer, Turner & Townsend

Professor Michael Arthur, President and Provost, UCL

Sir Martin Sorrell, Chief Executive, WPP


Notes to editors

–         Let Britain Fly is an independent campaign coalition whose strategic objective is to build cross-party political support for airports expansion in London and the South East. Its founding statement has attracted support from more than 100 senior business leaders from Britain’s top companies, trade and professional associations, unions and educational institutions, along with organisations including the British Chambers of Commerce, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, London First, the Institute of Directors, the Federation of Small Businesses and the British Hospitality Association. For more information see: