YORKSHIRE stands to reap some of the benefits from a planned expansion at Heathrow Airport, four years before the opening of a new runway.
The airport believes that adding 25,000 more flights to the existing annual limit of 480,000 would lead to a “Brexit boost” worth £1.5 billion to the UK economy between 2021 and the opening of a third runway in 2025.
This increased capacity would be ring-fenced to create up to 21 new daily domestic services and 13 long haul routes, according to Heathrow.
This could include a new early morning flight, and other services from Leeds Bradford Airport.
Regional politicians and business leaders welcomed today’s proposals.
Gerald Jennings, president of Leeds Chamber of Commerce, said: “As we enter the new economic world which Brexit will represent, it has never been more important for companies to reach out to new world markets.
“Heathrow to the world via Leeds-Bradford Airport is already helping local businesses reach these markets but with expansion and a further runway comes the potential for more destinations and greater world access.”
Leeds North East MP Fabian Hamilton added: “The Leeds Bradford Airport to Heathrow route is a key economic driver for our city, connecting our businesses to opportunities abroad and attracting inward investment from major global firms. Today’s announcement will strengthen this vital link, with more flights at better times dramatically improving our access to the world and unlocking opportunities for businesses across the board.”
Heathrow’s proposals could also could mean new routes to other UK destinations such as Dundee, Newquay and Liverpool, and to growing international markets including the Japanese port city of Osaka, Ecuadorian capital Quito and central Chinese city Wuhan.
Heathrow wants its cap on flights to be raised by almost 70 per day by 2021.
But John Stewart, chairman of the anti-Heathrow group Hacan, said accused the airport of rushing out the proposals.
He said: “The cap on flights has always been regarded as sacrosanct by residents but if it is to be lifted in advance of a third runway, it is essential that measures such as a tougher night flight regime are in place.
“It’s very clear that this package has been rushed out in response to the Government’s concern that a third runway won’t be ready in time to deliver improved connectivity post-Brexit.
“Heathrow has been under real pressure to show that it can do something since both the rival schemes - a second runway at Gatwick and the extended runway at Heathrow proposed by Heathrow Hub - can be built more quickly and cheaply”.
Ministers are currently considering which project to support and a decision is expected in the coming weeks.
Heathrow’s latest proposals, to be launched in full at the upcoming Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, also suggest extending the airport’s £10 discount for every departing passenger flying to a UK destination for 20 years.
The west London hub claims its plans will enable the whole country to capitalise on new market opportunities in the early months of the UK leaving the European Union, supporting small and large exporters, boosting competition and reducing prices for consumers.
The airport published research by consultancy Frontier Economics which showed that - assuming the UK leaves the EU in 2020 - it will create around £55 billion more growth than an expanded Gatwick in the 15 years after Brexit.
Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “This Brexit boost plan is our commitment to making Britain stronger and fairer for everyone - faster.
“Our proposals for an additional 25,000 flights a year from 2021 would help businesses and families from Newquay to Dundee benefit earlier from Heathrow expansion, while protecting our commitment to meet and exceed the Airports Commission’s environmental conditions.
“Heathrow’s third runway is the only option that can help every nation and region of Britain realise the opportunities of Brexit. The Prime Minister and the Government can now make the right choice, and back Heathrow expansion.”
Liverpool John Lennon Airport boss Andrew Cornish said an expanded Heathrow would create the opportunity for flights to operate between the airports, linking Liverpool with “every continent on the globe”.
Mike Cherry, Federation of Small Businesses national chairman, believed Heathrow’s proposals for boosting capacity while a third runway is built would be “warmly welcomed” by small businesses across the UK.
Gatwick has previously claimed it is the only expansion project that can be delivered.