Third Heathrow runway greenlit by MPs

The long-debated third runway at London Heathrow airport has been given approval by the House of Commons.

Credit: iStock
Credit: iStock

The government won a key vote on Heathrow's third runway yesterday in the Commons by 415 votes to 119 - a majority of 296.

The government has promised that building the runway will be no cost to the taxpayer, will create 100,000 jobs and will benefit the entire country, through guaranteed internal flights to the rest of the UK.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling, speaking at the start of the four-hour debate, said Heathrow was "full" and a new runway would offer the UK "a clear path to our future as a global nation in the post-Brexit world."

Labour's shadow chancellor John McDonnell warned "there are human costs to this decision that this House needs to recognise and contemplate before they vote tonight to worry and blight my community once again on a programme that will never - pardon the pun - take off."

In addition to post-Brexit opportunity, the new runway "translates into another key development towards rebalancing economic opportunity outside of London and the South East," said Adrian Parkes, CEO of the Guild of Travel Management Companies (GTMC). 

It will have a focus on "regional connectivity with the pledge to attribute 15% of slots to domestic routes," said Parkes. He welcomed the decision as "another important step forward in the expansion of routes both in and out of the UK to support the business travel community and in turn wider economic growth.

"The average international business travel air trip triggers a £34,000 contribution to gross domestic product. It is encouraging to see that MPs also recognise this impact following the result of last night’s vote," he added.

SMEs also look to benefit from the decision, said Dafydd Llewellyn, MD of SAP Concur. "In the short term, companies in and around Heathrow will profit, and in the longer term, the additional destinations will help companies break into fast-growing markets and ensure Britain remains a key figure in the globalised economy," he said.

Others viewed the decision as a cynical way to reward shareholders at the expense of consumers and to the detriment of the UK. "Parliament has approved Heathrow’s expansion without any idea on how much it will cost and we have zero confidence in Heathrow’s management’s ability to deliver this project while keeping airport charges flat," commented Willie Walsh, IAG chief executive.

He also added that it is "only a matter of time before we start hearing excuses for massive cost escalation on the exorbitant estimated cost of the project. These excuses will be followed by a change of leadership at Heathrow, who will then distance themselves from the promises and commitments that have been given."

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