As the battle of the runways hots up, London Heathrow Airport (LHR) has announced what its expansion could mean for Cornwall.
Planned London airport expansion is set to be a straight shoot out between Gatwick and Heathrow.
And today Heathrow chiefs announced details of a new £10 million Heathrow Route Development Fund which, they say, will boost “Newquay Cornwall Airport’s chance of a Heathrow connection to global growth” should it get the green light to build a third runway.
The funding, Heathrow says, will act as “start-up capital for airlines to support five new routes for three years where the market doesn’t initially support them”.
It has also pledged to review its charges for domestic routes in January 2016 and work with any organisation that wants to operate Northolt as a satellite runway for UK routes until Heathrow is expanded.
Cornwall’s tourism sector has long-relied on UK visitors for its success. But a connection to Heathrow, which has over 30 million foreign tourists passing through its terminals every year – almost four times more than any other UK airport – could transform that, the London airport claims.
Likewise, the aerospace cluster that’s growing around Newquay Airport could soon be within striking distance of the biggest names in the industry that are based in California, Carolina and, increasingly, China.
And independent research by Quod, commissioned by Heathrow and based on economic analysis by the Airports Commission, claims an expanded Heathrow could benefit the south west to the tune of £10 billion in economic growth, creating 12,300 new jobs.
Heathrow CEO, John Holland-Kaye, said: “We’re ready to connect Cornwall to global growth. We have been listening to businesses, politicians and now to the National Connectivity Task Force, and today’s announcement shows that we have a plan to deliver what Britain needs.
“Only Heathrow can connect all of Britain to global growth. That’s why we are best for Britain and backed by Britain. Let’s get on with it.”
There has not been an air link between Heathrow and Cornwall since 1997 and Newquay Airport MD, Al Titterington, welcomed today’s announcement.
“The package of measures that Heathrow Airport has committed to deliver regional access is an extremely positive and much needed step forward,” he said.
“We have been working hard with both Heathrow and Gatwick to secure access to any new runway capacity and Heathrow is the first to make such a detailed public commitment to Cornwall. Whilst the measures announced don’t provide guaranteed access for Newquay what it does demonstrate is that Heathrow have listened to us and that the requirements of regional airports are being considered seriously.
“Heathrow’s announcement makes some significant commitments to enable future access from Newquay (and other regional airports) which we fully support.”