06 Aug 2012
Challenge to Heathrow expansion
Business leaders in Greater Birmingham have challenged claims — in a new report by the Conservative Free Enterprise Group — that additional runways at Heathrow are the only viable solution to the UK’s shortage of aviation capacity.
Jerry Blackett, chief executive of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Group (BCCG), has asked (in a letter to the report’s author) why Heathrow claims that it needs to expand to benefit UK businesses and yet uses 60% of its capacity to fly tourists to destinations such as Orlando and Malaga.
The Chamber highlighted the fact that a third runway at Heathrow would offer only 7% of the capacity needed by 2050, while the UK’s six largest regional airports could add 50%. Mr Blackett has also refuted claims that people in China want to fly to the capital, not Birmingham. “The West Midlands is one of the only regions that has been bucking national trends and consistently reducing unemployment and growing its economy. We have done this thanks to the vigour with which our manufacturers have been exporting.
“Since 2003, Birmingham has attracted more Chinese investment projects than any other UK city outside London. The Chinese are focused on investing in manufacturing and research and design — which the West Midlands has in abundance. China has recently overtaken Germany as the West Midlands’ second-largest trading partner, and we have done all of this without a direct flight to China.”