City meeting to promote case for Heathrow hub

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BUSINESS success and jobs in the Leeds City Region are dependant on improving the capacity at London’s Heathrow Airport.

That is the message that the Leeds, York & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce is putting forward at a meeting of 30 leading businesses today.

The business body wants the Government to back improvements at Britain’s only so-called hub airport which links the region to overseas markets.

Research launched today at the meeting convened by the Chamber of Commerce and BAA in Leeds says that 11 per cent of jobs in Yorkshire depend on foreign investment, aviation supports £3.3bn of exports from Yorkshire and that foreign tourists spend £417m a year in Yorkshire’s economy.

The research also suggests that capital expenditure at Heathrow brought in £80m for Yorkshire suppliers in 2010 and that Heathrow supports 3,800 tourism jobs in our region. Capacity constraints at Heathrow are limiting flights to many foreign markets, particularly in emerging economies such as China and Brazil, which the Chamber fears is limiting business opportunities.

Mark Goldstone, head of business representation and policy at the Chamber, said: “Encouraging increased trade between UK firms and overseas markets is vital to the rebalancing of the UK economy.

“While firms are being urged to trade with new partners in emerging markets, they are hindered by the lack of connections to these countries, in turn hurting both inward investment and Britain’s export potential. This is a real issue for Leeds City Region as we have dozens of members that trade with or aspire to do business with the likes of Brazil, India and China.”

Jose Leo, BAA chief financial officer, said: “We are edging towards a future cut off from some of the world’s most important markets.”

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