The commission, led by Howard Davies, has concluded that the south-west London airport is the most economically viable space for an additional runway. Though the proposals will mean the loss of up to 750 homes and potential noise pollution for thousands, an expansion at Heathrow would lead to more job creation and greater profits, compared to an expansion at Gatwick.
"A political decision needs to be made," said Simon Hughes, vice chair of the Business Visits and Events Partnership (BVEP). "If Heathrow has been recommended for expansion then it’s something the events industry should get behind. At the moment we’re at a massive disadvantage because we’re not getting enough traffic in or out." He added that in terms of economic impact, the case for Heathrow’s growth was strong.
Dale Parmenter, group CEO of drp, also supported the proposals. "It’s great for the industry, although I’m slightly concerned about the infrastructure. They need to ensure we have the roads and public transport system to support it."
Parmenter agreed that Heathrow was the strongest choice, with rival airports lagging behind in infrastructure and convenience. "We often use Heathrow for event groups as it’s efficient and offers our delegates the experience they’re looking for. Maybe other airports can use this an incentive to improve."
If the proposals go ahead, it could provide a boost to international events, increasing the number of incentive trips and conferences abroad.
"With incentives and meetings it’s all about access," explained Nicola Alexander, business development director for MICE, Europe at Travel Alberta. "More capacity can only be a good thing for the industry - it will drive down prices and put more destinations on the map."
However, she admitted she had reservations regarding the social and environmental impact of the expansion. "I do feel conflicted as I can understand the points against it: loss of homes, pressure on London infrastructure and more pollution. Overall though, I think the economic benefits will outweigh the negatives."
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