The chief executive of London Luton Airport (LLA) has called on the government to do more to tackle the capital’s airport capacity problems.
Nick Barton believes that approving Heathrow’s third runway will not “solve London’s capacity problems alone”.
Instead Barton is calling for better rail links to optimise regional airports potential.
“The Cabinet’s recent approval of the third runway at Heathrow will not solve London’s capacity problems alone,” Barton said. “Regional airports need to be able to meet their full potential, and improved rail links are essential to achieving that.
“The DfT has recognised that in the East Midlands rail franchise and we hope the bidding rail companies will seize this once-in-a-decade opportunity to improve rail services for passengers and help ease the UK’s capacity crunch.”
The renewal of the East Midlands rail franchise and the Department for Transport’s recently-published invitation to tender highlights the importance of improving air rail links to both LLA and East Midlands Airport.
LLA has called on bidders for the franchise to include four fast trains per hour between Luton Airport Parkway and central London.
A Heathrow spokesperson added: “We have always supported growth at other airports across Britain, where there is demand. However, we are clear that this shouldn’t be in place of Heathrow as our plans have been proven as the best option by way of addressing a capacity crisis in the South East.
”Our northwest runway scheme is the only proposal to have survived under the intense scrutiny of the debate which has been rumbling on for 50 years. It is now time to get on and deliver an expanded Heathrow to benefit all of the UK.”
Former Airports Commission chair Howard Davies and National Infrastructure Commission chair John Armitt urged MPs not to block Heathrow’s third runway, stressing an expanded Heathrow would show the world the UK “is determined to remain open and outward-facing” as it navigates Brexit.
A Commons vote on expansion will take place in the next few weeks after Cabinet backed Heathrow’s third runway last week.
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