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Improved airports would 'help north achieve potential'

03 February 2017 09:34

Experts have called for better airport links in the north of England

Experts have called for better airport links in the north of England

Better connectivity in the north of England would see millions more air passengers pass through the region, an independent commission has found.

Business chiefs claimed improving airports in the north, as well as roads and rail links, could almost double the number of passengers travelling through the region's airports each year - increasing from 40 million to 75 million by 2050.

John Cridland, head of the Independent International Connectivity Commission, said: "Inadequate ground transport links, coupled with not enough direct services to key international destinations, mean that passengers from the north often have to travel from southern gateways.

"Unlike in the south, where ports and airports are heavily congested, the north's international gateways have unused capacity."

According to a report by the commission, while 25% of the UK's population currently lives in the north or England, its seven airports handle just 15% of all airport passengers in Britain.

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Improved infrastructure needed

The commission report is recommending a series of detailed interventions to improve ground links to airports in the north of England.

Ken O'Toole, chief executive of Manchester Airport, says the report rightly recognises the strength of Manchester Airport's existing route network and its potential to "connect the north to more key global destinations".

"The commission has confirmed what we have been saying for some time - that large-scale investment in road and rail infrastructure is needed to ensure all parts of the north are connected to its primary global gateway," he said.

"It is this combination of world-class domestic and international connectivity that is needed to ensure the goals of the Northern Powerhouse Independent Economic Review and the UK's new Industrial Strategy are realised."

Commenting on the report, former chancellor George Osborne, chair of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said: "Much has been said about the importance of connecting together the great cities of the north but today's report demonstrates how vital it is that the region also has strong links to the world.

"In the years to come, the great airports and ports of the north will play an increasingly important role in driving greater levels of investment, trade and tourism into the UK and every effort must be made to ensure that they continue to grow and it is as easy as possible for passengers to access these key national assets."