British Airways has once again called on the British government to urgently address the lack of new hub airport capacity in the south-east of England.
Responding to the government’s “Developing a sustainable framework for UK aviation” consultation, the airline warned that in order to support the UK economy there must be additional aviation capacity to meet growing demand for global connectivity.
In its submission, the airline argues that aviation supports more than 900,000 jobs in the UK and provides vital transport links for businesses across the country.
While London has developed one of the world’s best and most extensive networks of international air services, it is in danger of stagnating and falling behind competitors due to lack of new hub capacity.
Keith Williams, British Airways’ chief executive, said: “The government must take action now.
“There are no easy choices, but avoiding these choices is to undermine the UK aviation and aerospace industry and to hinder the economic recovery.”
He added: “We are already falling behind other European hubs in providing services to the booming markets of China and India.
“This will only continue unless the Government commits to allowing sustainable growth.
“The UK government has a choice. It can pursue sustainable growth, or simply manage a steady decline.”
While the number of direct services to China has stalled at Heathrow, rival hubs in Europe have continued to add services.
There are now 21 emerging market destinations with daily flights from other European hubs that are not served from Heathrow.
As a result UK passengers are increasingly being forced to transfer through alternative hubs such as Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam – effectively outsourcing the UK’s air transport needs.
The airline’s submission also dismissed plans for a high-speed rail link between Gatwick and Heathrow, and the creation of a “virtual hub”.
It argues that both airports currently operate at full capacity, and the logistical challenges would prove insurmountable.