Fresh calls have been made for a decision on increasing runway capacity in the South East after manufacturer Boeing predicted that tens of thousands of new aircraft will be needed by 2031.
Boeing’s Current Market Outlook 2012 to 2031 report forecasts a 5% annual growth in global passenger air travel, and a similar expansion in air cargo volumes.
It said that 34,000 aircraft costing a total of $4.5 trillion (£2.9bn) would be needed to match this demand. The report assumes airport infrastructure construction will keep pace.
Mott MacDonald aviation consultant Laurie Price said the government had to ensure the UK was not left behind as aircraft use grew.
“There is a complete constipation in UK aviation policy and has been for 40 years,” he told NCE.
“The prime minister has spoken of his pride in filling planes with UK businessmen but I ask: ‘where will these planes fly from’?
“Let’s stop talking and start acting. We need a decision sooner rather than later. Aircraft are moveable assets and if we don’t provide runways for them, then airlines will progressively ignore the UK.”
Cost consultant EC Harris head of aviation Paul Willis said he feared that the UK could lose out to its neighbours. “Without new infrastructure, planes will go to airports with spare capacity, such as Frankfurt and Amsterdam, and Heathrow will lose its status as a leading airport.
“If Heathrow becomes less important; so does London. The impact on the economy would be massive.
A spokeswoman for business lobby group London First said the government understood the need for new runways but did not seem to realise the urgency. “We need capacity tackled now,” she said. “We need short, medium and long-term solutions.”