Britain could lose out on more than 140,000 jobs as a result of the government’s failure to provide clear support for a UK hub airport, two of the UK’s leading trade unions have warned.
The warning, from GMB and Unite, follows the publication of new research by Oxford Economics, sponsored by Heathrow Airport, modelling the economic impact of the UK’s only hub airport at Heathrow being allowed to wither on the vine. It comes in the run-up to publication of the government’s aviation white paper, which is expected to discuss long-term options for aviation policy, such as the development of a new hub in the Thames Estuary.
It is expected that a Thames Estuary airport could take a minimum of 25 years to construct – during which time even more British jobs risk being permanently lost to other European hubs in Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Paris.
The GMB and Unite unions’ call to action was echoed by the Institute of Directors. The two trade unions join a growing coalition of business leaders highlighting the economic dangers of doing nothing to address Britain’s connectivity crunch before a long-term solution is in place. Business leaders and trade unions are calling for the Government to do more to support Heathrow in the short- and medium-term to ensure British businesses can access world markets.
The Oxford Economics research looks at the economic implications if nothing is done to boost capacity between now and 2021, constraining Heathrow’s ability to meet growing demand and to act as Britain’s gateway to the world. The research finds that constraints on capacity at Heathrow will result in up to 5.8 million fewer international visitors to the UK from long haul destinations each year by 2021. This will result in £7.3 billion less spending each year. As a result, Britain will lose out on £3.6 billion in GDP and 78,800 jobs.
Mick Rix, GMB national officer for Aviation, said, “It is plain daft to exclude the option of expanding Heathrow. Last autumn Government said it was looking at another airport hub in the South of England, but not at Heathrow. GMB consider that this is profoundly wrong and call on all political parties to keep every option on the table, including the issue of the third runway at Heathrow."
Colin Matthews, CEO, BAA, added: “The centre of gravity in the world economy is shifting and we need to forge new links with emerging markets. Instead, we are edging towards a future cut off from some of the world’s most important markets, with Paris and Frankfurt already boasting more flights to the three largest cities in China than Heathrow, our only hub airport. These poor trade links are costing Britain jobs. Growth won’t wait. New routes from Europe to emerging markets are already being established at other European hubs. Britain needs the jobs and growth that new connections would bring."