Leeds Bradford Airport chief joins criticism of Heathrow ‘scaremongering’ as he backs expansion plan

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The chief executive of Leeds Bradford Airport has joined criticism of “reckless and dangerous scaremongering” about the impact of the expansion of Heathrow ahead of a vote by MPs on the controversial scheme.

The decision to press ahead with expansion of the airport in London was announced earlier this month after years of wrangling and delay, with a vote on the proposed third runway expected later this summer.

Leeds Bradford Airport's CEO, David Laws. 10 July 2017.  Picture Bruce Rollinson

Leeds Bradford Airport's CEO, David Laws. 10 July 2017. Picture Bruce Rollinson

Last week, The Yorkshire Post revealed that a Commons committee’s analysis of official projections showed Leeds Bradford Airport would see 4,449 fewer international flights a year by 2030 if expansion went ahead.

Doncaster Sheffield Airport would lose 1,413 while the North’s major hub - Manchester - would lose 20,258.

Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, said the knock-on effect of the extra passengers at the Heathrow “could be that a substantial new transport infrastructure is required to cope, thereby locking in London’s claim over the future transport capital budget”.

Theresa May is already being challenged by several west London-based Tory MPs ready to oppose a third runway and may have to rely on votes from the SNP and DUP to get it through the Commons in the coming weeks.

It is reckless and dangerous to scaremonger MPs around the UK, as it almost certainly means that communities outside of London, will lose out and get left behind in the global race.

Letter from 40 airport heads

But a joint letter from the heads of 40 airports across the UK, including David Laws, the chief executive of Leeds Bradford Airport, said they “stand in support of a third runway at Heathrow”.

The letter said: “Collectively we wholeheartedly dispute the allegations made by some politicians and commentators across various broadcast outlets yesterday.

“As operators of airports, we understand aviation economics and we understand that Heathrow expansion is the right choice for our strategic growth.

“Hub airports are proven to be the most efficient vehicle for capacity growth, and growth more broadly in the aviation sector.

“It is reckless and dangerous to scaremonger MPs around the UK, as it almost certainly means that communities outside of London, will lose out and get left behind in the global race. It is not for London politicians to speak on our behalf.”

Announcing the decision to press ahead with the expansion, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said it was being taken in the national interest and would benefit the whole of the UK - with 15 per cent of new landing slots at the airport “facilitating” regional connectivity.

He said the £14bn runway, which could be completed by 2026, would be funded entirely privately.

A spokesman for Leeds Bradford Airport told The Yorkshire Post: “Our services to Heathrow offer important international connections for people and businesses across Yorkshire, so we welcome expansion and the benefits it is set to bring.

“It is important to understand that Heathrow expansion offers us increased opportunities for connections to destinations worldwide and therefore stronger global links for Yorkshire.

“We are confident that Leeds Bradford Airport will remain a crucial hub for Yorkshire, providing a global gateway to our region.”

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