New runway for Heathrow favoured by Airports Commission

After a prolonged period of debate about the options for adding additional airport capacity in the South East of England, the Airports Commission, chaired by Howard Davies, has found in favour of a new additional runway at Heathrow. This flies in the face of the stated preference of the Mayor of London, Boris Johnston, who favoured a completely new airport and others leading figures who preferred an additional runway at Gatwick. The preference of the Commission for Heathrow is considered a favourable outcome for Northern Ireland because of the extensive connectivity Heathrow airport provides to domestic regional airports. Commenting on the recommendation “after three years of deliberation” Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chief Executive, Ann McGregor said: “The Heathrow hub offers Northern Ireland businesses access to the British market and to a wide range of global destinations which are important for export growth, foreign direct investment and tourism…to make the most out of any future decrease in corporation tax Northern Ireland requires better connectivity to every continent of the globe.”

There are however some opponents of the Heathrow expansion who argue that the new runway will actually lead to a reduction in the domestic connectivity which is vital to Northern Ireland. They argue that with the new capacity Heathrow will switch from domestic connectivity in favour of the much more lucrative long-haul business.

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