It was something of an understatement when the Transport Secretary said the Government wanted to make sure they took time to consider plans for airport expansion.
In the Airport Commission’s final report in July 2015 a strong case was made for a third runway at Heathrow and this week the Government finally accepted that recommendation. The Government had not been short of advice on the subject, including strong campaigns by North East MPs and the North East Chamber of Commerce. There are already good links between Newcastle International Airport and Heathrow with half a million passengers choosing the route each year. Expanding Heathrow would allow Newcastle to offer a wider range of destinations, including more flights to New York after the disappointing loss of the United Airlines direct flight from Newcastle.
The benefits of Heathrow expansion for the NE would include a boost for exports, greater competition between airlines leading to cheaper flights and more tourism, hopefully, bound for the regions. On top of that there are the jobs created in construction and investment in infrastructure, which offer a better route to economic growth than more austerity. Furthermore, as the economic storm clouds gather around Brexit, now is the time to build better links with the rest of the world. So my message to the Government on Heathrow expansion, notwithstanding the requirement for consultation, is the case has been made, let’s get on with it.