New runway must spread economic benefit to nations and regions

A new report ‘The Importance of Domestic Connectivity’ published by the pro-expansion campaign group Let Britain Fly highlights the decline in air connectivity between London’s airports and other key cities across the regions and nations of the UK, resulting from constrained capacity, and examines how improved air links with London could benefit the entire country.

The report is the culmination of discussions with regional business leaders and politicians held in cities across the UK, about what airport expansion in London and the South East means for them.

The report found stakeholders from cities including Leeds, Newcastle, Belfast, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Liverpool backed a new runway in London and the South East. But this support was predicated on local airports around the country being able to offer a greater number of flight connections to and from the capital (and on to key international markets).

Since 1990, the number of domestic destinations served ‘at least weekly’ from Heathrow Airport has fallen from 19 to 8, a trend which can be observed across all London airports.

However the report argues, if the number of domestic flights from London was increased, as a result of building new runways, this increase in domestic air connectivity has the potential to boost tourism, trade, investment and attract more international talent to cities right across the UK, in turn creating jobs and growth.

Recently, both Heathrow and Gatwick Airports have shown their commitment to increasing domestic air links by pledging millions of pounds to support regional air links with the capital if they are chosen for expansion.

The Airports Commission’s final report which will recommend a location for a new runway in the South East is due to be published this summer. The Commission was set up in 2012 with the backing of the main political parties, with both the recent Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat manifestos stating that they will take Sir Howard Davies’ final recommendation into consideration.

Gavin Hayes, Director of Let Britain Fly, said:

“We urge the new government to make a swift decision on airport expansion, as our report demonstrates a lack of airport capacity in the South East not only has economic ramifications for London, but for the whole of the UK; one manifestation of this has been a decline in the number of domestic routes from the capital’s airports to other key cities across the country.

“Air connectivity between London and the regions and nations of the UK is therefore a critical issue that must be robustly addressed in the Airports Commission’s forthcoming final report. Particularly if any recommendation is to win not just cross-party, but cross-country political support.

“The clear view from the nations and regions is that the Commission must recommend a solution that spreads the economic benefit to every part of the country. One idea would be to ensure that when new runways are finally built, some of the additional slots generated from expansion are used to maintain and enhance domestic connectivity with the capital.”

For further comment / to arrange an interview call Gavin Hayes on 07900 195591

Notes to editors

– Let Britain Fly is an independent campaign coalition whose founding statement has support from more than 100 senior business leaders from Britain’s top companies, trade and professional associations, unions and educational institutions, along with business organisations including the British Chambers of Commerce, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, London First, Institute of Directors, Federation of Small Businesses and the British Hospitality Association. For more information visit

Gavin Hayes
Director, Let Britain Fly

D: 020 7665 1435   T: 020 7665 1500
Website:  Twitter: @letbritainfly
c/o London First, Middlesex House, 34-42 Cleveland Street, London W1T 4JE