The employers’ organisation called for a firm plan to be established in the next 18 months and that the government must take urgent decisions on maximising capacity at existing airports, allowing flexible use of two runways and improving customer service. The Chancellor announced an ambition in the Budget to double the UK’s annual exports to £1tn by 2020 but current capacity constraints mean that the UK risks becoming a less attractive place to do business and invest.
CBI director general John Cridland said: “Our proposals for the future of aviation in the UK will help us to tackle rising demand in the short, medium and long-term across the country. This is not an “either or”, we need to act now and across all fronts to remain a world class business destination, and boost our trade with emerging economies.”
He added: “To achieve the Government’s laudable aim of doubling our annual exports by 2020, the UK must improve its connections with fast-growing markets such as China, India and South America.
Mr Cridland made the point that currently, the UK’s major airports are losing out to other European destinations. He added that more of our regional UK cities are connected by air to Amsterdam than to Heathrow, and we have no links at all with many of the major Chinese cities.
The UK has been unable to meet rising demand for flights to growth markets in China. Heathrow airport serves 176 destinations in just 90 countries, and can only open new routes by closing down existing links.
There are now seven major cities in China served by the airports in Frankfurt, Paris or Amsterdam that are not served by direct flights from the UK. Germany is served by 60 direct air links a week with Chinese cities – twice as many as the UK.