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'Let Britain Fly' urge campaigners

21 November 2013 09:26

Increasing airport capacity would cut the chances of flight delays for travellers

Increasing airport capacity would cut the chances of flight delays for travellers

A campaign has been launched to encourage the Government to expand the capacity of the country's airports in order to "Let Britain Fly".

MPs and business leaders say the expansion is needed to avoid a "looming air capacity crunch" that would set the UK economy back until at least 2040.

Increasing capacity would cut the current potential for flight delays which regularly leave holidaymakers and business travellers alike checking the small print on on their travel insurance policies.

Campaigners say ministers should act now to end "decades of dithering", warning that without it the UK's economic prospects will be damaged.

The Let Britain Fly campaign calls on all of the major parties to make a commitment to tackle the country's air capacity problem in their 2015 General Election manifestos.

The campaign is being backed by leading firms such as Associated British Foods, Lloyds Banking Group, Dixons, Boots UK, John Lewis, Next, Hilton Worldwide and Land Securities.

Among the MPs supporting it are Louise Ellman, chairman of the House of Commons Transport Committee and Graham Brady, who chairs the Commons 1922 Committee.

John Allan, chairman of Dixons Retail, said: "Sorting out policy quickly to increase airport capacity in south-east England is vital to enable long-term economic growth, not just in the south east but for the UK as a whole."

Mrs Ellman said failing to increase air hub capacity in the south-east would result in the UK continuing "to lose out to its competitors in Europe and beyond".

Mr Brady said the 50 years of "political indecision" that there had been on the issue was "inexcusable".

He added: "It's imperative that politicians finally set their party interests to one side and forge a cross-party consensus to safeguard and enhance the UK's economic and social interests."

The final report of the Whitehall-appointed Airports Commission is set to be published in summer 2015.

Baroness Jo Valentine, chief executive of the London First business group, said Britain's airport infrastructure had suffered from five decades of "stop-start government mismanagement".

She said the commission represented the last call for all political parties to "step up and sort out the problem".