Yorkshire firms are urged to back Heathrow bid

First published in News Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , Business Reporter

Businesses in Yorkshire have been urged to throw their weight behind calls for the Government to put expansion of Heathrow Airport back on the agenda which would help boost the regional economy.

Research by economic analysts Oxford Economics says aviation plays a vital role in supporting Yorkshire’s economy. It underlines the importance of access to the UK’s only hub airport at Heathrow in connecting regional businesses to global destinations.

The report emphasises that 11 per cent of Yorkshire jobs depend on foreign investment and two- thirds of these companies can only reach their home market through a hub airport.

Aviation supports £3.3 billion of exports from Yorkshire and foreign visitors spend £417 million a year in the region. Capital expenditure at Heathrow brought in £80 million for Yorkshire suppliers in 2010 and Heathrow directly supports 3,800 tourism jobs in the region.

At a seminar in Leeds, businesses were urged not to give in to a ‘well-heeled’ lobby in the South-East which had led to main political parties withdrawing support for a third runway at Heathrow.

The Government is set to start consultation on aviation policy next month and Heathrow owner BAA is stepping up its campaign to get the extra runway back on the agenda. BAA chief financial officer Jose Leo said the airport was 99.2 per cent full.

He said: “The centre of gravity in the world economy is shifting and Yorkshire and the UK should be forging 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 have a direct impact on Yorkshire. Growth won’t wait. New routes from Europe to emerging markets are already being established at other European hub airports and Yorkshire needs the additional jobs and economic growth that new connections would bring. We also need a solution which builds new connections from the hub we have at Heathrow.”

Jonathan Riley, partner at seminar hosts Pinsent Masons, who is vice-chairman of Bradford Property Forum, said: “There’s no doubt that a lack of routes to established and emerging international markets via Heathrow is an issue for many of our clients in the Leeds City Region.”

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