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East Midlands Chamber News

Utilise existing air capacity beyond the south east

Making better use of available air capacity at airports outside the London envelope should be considered alongside proposals for building new runways at Heathrow or Gatwick, according to a leading business organisation.

“Increased air capacity is essential for business across the country,” said Chris Hobson, Head of Information and Representation for the Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire Chamber Group, reacting to the results of the Davies Commission published this morning.

He added: “Expanding air capacity is vital for the long-term prosperity of the UK, however, it’s also vital that when the longer-term expansion takes place the rest of the country is able to benefit from this by having adequate connectivity to the new development.

“And alongside any expansion in the south east, the feasibility of utilising existing capacity at East Midlands Airport, for example, should also be considered.

“In terms of journey time, East Midlands Airport is only marginally further from London than is Gatwick, and with proper connectivity, such as HS2, even that journey time could be reduced.

“East Midlands Airport remains a critical gateway to the rest of the world for any business not located in London or south of Hertfordshire and is much easier to get to than Gatwick.

“It is wrong to presume that any additional capacity should be focused on two airports already running at their limits when significant spare capacity is available at a more convenient location for millions of people than either Heathrow or Gatwick.”

Chris added that while considering capacity, the Government should also address the issue of air passenger duty – the tax imposed on all air travellers when they buy tickets.

“Air passenger duty is a punitive tax on travelling from the UK which disadvantages UK businesses compared with international competitors.

“The Chamber doesn’t believe the tax is fair on UK businesses but if it must be imposed then there should be a grace period during which it is not chargeable on new routes. This would encourage new routes and enhance our ability to compete and participate in international markets,” he said.

The Davies Commission was set up to investigate the need for and provision of additional runway capacity in the UK.