The announcement that any decision on airport expansion will be left to the new Prime Minister has come as a blow, says EEF.
One year on since the independent Airports Commission unanimously came down in favour of expanding Heathrow airport and new research shows that support from British manufacturers for Heathrow expansion remains strong.
According to EEF research, three quarters (78%) of manufacturers with a business-need for air freight access say that Heathrow expansion would best support their company’s export ambitions.
Similarly, more than half (53%) of those surveyed think that additional capacity at Heathrow would deliver the best economic benefits to the wider UK – compared to 13% saying the same of Gatwick.
These benefits, as identified by the Airports Commission, include increased intermediate trade due to a reduction in country-to-country trade costs; a boost to GDP due to increased international competitiveness and ultimately productivity, as well as a boost to the freight industry on which manufacturers looking to export heavily rely.
Manufacturers also rate Heathrow more highly than Gatwick for its ability to attract airlines offering the best business connectivity to both traditional and emerging markets.
CEO of EEF, Terry Scuoler commented: “At a time when business needs confidence, it is extremely frustrating that internal party politics prevents a key infrastructure decision from being taken.
“One year on from the Airports Commission’s recommendation on Heathrow expansion and this crucial decision is still stuck in the departure lounge and will be for the foreseeable future.
“It is a missed opportunity to let the world know that post-Brexit Britain is open for business, and for the Government to demonstrate commitment to growth in these uncertain times.
Scuoler continued: “Heathrow expansion would not just help exporters and those seeking access to new markets, but would be a key linchpin in securing Britain’s post-Brexit future as a trading nation.
“It would also bring a range of valuable supply chain opportunities that would boost jobs and growth across the UK. Similar to the Airports Commission, British manufacturers are unequivocal – Heathrow is the best option and it is time to get this nationally important infrastructure project off the ground.”
Trade data for the 12 months to April 2016 shows the importance of Heathrow in securing a good balance of trade with emerging markets, is now even more important following the result of the EU referendum.
Of the UK’s non-EU exports by value, 38% went via Heathrow. The airport also channels 31% of ‘BRIC’ exports, 23% of ‘Next 11’ and 23% of ‘CIVETS’.