Airport is key to the economy

The arrival gates at Newcastle International Airport.
The arrival gates at Newcastle International Airport.

The fact we are 300 miles from the capital and the prosperous South East is a fact of life and makes efficient and affordable land routes vital to our well-being.

But the distances to London and to other destinations and markets are dwarfed if we look at air travel.

That’s why expanding Heathrow airport was so important to me as a North East MP, and also why it is vital we have an airport in Newcastle that is fit for the future, not least with all the uncertainties that swirl around Brexit.

This week saw the end of consultations on the proposed masterplan for our airport. Once the reactions have been digested, I hope for vigorous determination to lift our game.

The airport authorities rightly say that the airport is a North East success story and a key economic driver. It is the UK’s 11th busiest airport and passenger numbers have soared with over five million people coming and going last year.

But it can be better by expanding its footprint if necessary if not by much, and better connecting passengers into our region while protecting the environment through reducing emissions and noise with newer and quieter aircraft.

We need a bespoke airport that can do all those important things and keep the North East at the cutting edge of economic growth as the airport approaches its centenary in 2035. And crucially generating jobs we need. My job is to support that.