This is a sponsored post by Heathrow Airport.

“The economic impacts of expansion at Heathrow would be felt throughout the UK… It shows that the effects of expansion would be felt most strongly in the air passenger and freight sectors, but with increases in economic activity also seen across the country in other sectors with international linkages, such as manufacturing and accommodation and food services.

“In total, the analysis indicates that around 60 per cent of the overall boost to GDP would be focused on areas of the UK outside the South East of England.”

Airports Commission Final Report

Earlier this summer, after three years of research, scrutiny and consultation, the Airports Commission made a unanimous and clear recommendation for expansion at Heathrow.

In 2012, the then Government accepted that Britain was losing out in the global race for jobs, trade and growth because it didn’t have direct flights to growing markets in Asia and the Americas. To find the best answer, the Prime Minister appointed an independent and expert Commission to analyse what to do about it. The Commission was staffed with business people, engineers and academics. It was given until Summer 2015 and over £20 million to study what needed to be done and provide a recommendation.

Its findings confirmed only Heathrow could provide what is required: maintain the UK’s status as an aviation hub, and connect businesses to growth in every corner of the globe. There was no fudge. The Prime Minister was told by his own Commission: no ifs, no buts, Heathrow has to expand.

With a new vision for expansion together with the evidence, it isn’t a surprise. Heathrow creates up to four times the jobs and twice the economic benefit as other options. The potential to generate up to 180,000 new jobs across the UK and £211 billion worth of economic growth will transform the UK and future proof the economy.

With Heathrow full, Britain is slipping behind international competitors. At the start of this year, Heathrow was the best connected airport in the world and the busiest for international passengers. In Q1, Dubai overtook Heathrow for the first time on international passengers. In Q2, Paris overtook Heathrow for the number of long haul destinations served. There are four cities in China where Heathrow connects to but there are eight others that are connected to our European competitors. That means Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam are all better connected than London.

Britain is already feeling the consequences: France has 1,200,000 Chinese tourists arriving by air. The UK has 200,000 – the same as the Dutch, a country a third of its size. Heathrow is the UK’s biggest port by value yet Frankfurt exports six times as much by air to China.

Britain cannot defy economic gravity: fewer connections mean fewer exports and less inward investment. And as long as Britain has fewer flights to China than its European neighbours, the country will continue to fall behind.

There is a Chinese saying that the best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago but the second best time is today. Time has run out, either expand Heathrow and put Britain at the forefront of global growth or accept the fate that comes with being left behind.

Heathrow expansion is a solution that will help deliver some of the Government’s key national priorities:

  • By doubling freight capacity, Heathrow expansion is fundamental to the Northern Powerhouse, where seamless domestic transfers can provide global connectivity for high streets and business parks from Merseyside to Tyneside.
  • Creating up to 180,000 jobs around the UK, Heathrow expansion can Get Britain Back to Work, with employers and unions working together to entrench a skills legacy – with 10,000 apprenticeships offered at the airport alone.
  • With at least forty new long-haul destinations coming with expansion, Heathrow can help Britain Win the Global Race for jobs, trade and growth, creating new trading routes and expanding the gateway for inward investment.

There remain, of course, opponents. Their views are sincerely held and respected. But their arguments are not new. They were formed long before the Airports Commission was formed and long before the airport consulted closely with the community and released its new plans for expansion. But significantly, their views are also increasingly in the minority.

More than half of local people back expansion. More than 100,000 people have signed up to support Back Heathrow. Most local people understand expansion creates a once-in-a-generation opportunity to end youth unemployment in the local area. In Heathrow’s closest constituencies, where the majority of Heathrow workers live, support for expansion has a 40-point lead. In Boris Johnson’s Uxbridge seat, support for expansion has a 16-point lead over opposition.

If this were General Election polling, it would be described as a potential landslide for expansion at Heathrow. 53,000 people submitted their support to the Airports Commission to back Heathrow expansion, 2,000 wrote to oppose it. The silent majority is finding its voice.

No infrastructure project in the UK has the support that expansion at Heathrow enjoys. Over 30 Chambers of Commerce from Inverness to Lands End support Heathrow. The CBI, IoD, FSB, London First, TUC, GMB, Unite and MPs from across the nation support Heathrow.

That’s because the prize to be won will be felt throughout the UK. It’s time to get on with it.