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Heathrow expansion 'urgent'

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Posted on 20/02/2013 by Wayne Brophy FCILT

With cross-border trade increasing all the time largely thanks to the rise of e-commerce which allows customers to buy products directly from overseas manufacturers and retailers with great ease, the need to expand the UK's airports is of paramount concern.

The country's supply chain has been given a boost in recent months with significant funding being invested in domestic transport networks such as railways and motorways, although those in high-ranking logistics jobs will testify that the future of British industry is likely to depend largely on its ability to import and export goods.

The Davies Commission, a government review led by Sir Howard Davies, has been launched to look at the various options for expanding Heathrow, although a final decision is not expected to be reached until after the next general election in 2015.

The previous government had given its support to the addition of a third runway at London's largest airport, although this was overturned by the current administration and is now thought to have lost the backing of all three major political parties.

Other options being looked at by the Davies Commission include the creation of a new four-runway airport in the Thames Estuary to the east of London and expanding some of the capital's other hubs such as Gatwick and Stansted.

Colin Matthews, chief executive of Heathrow Ltd, is now calling for the decision to be brought forward, saying: "In terms of timing, we'd like the decision quicker", adding "we think it's urgent", Reuter reports.

One of the largest concerns expressed by Mr Matthews is that any decision reached by the Davies Commission will then have to be debated by politicians and other interested parties, meaning it could well be overturned, therefore prolonging the process of expanding Heathrow.

The earlier an outcome can be reached, the quicker it can be moderated by those in power and put into action.

Last year Heathrow dealt with 471,341 flights, meaning it is now operating very close to its capacity of 480,000.

Rival airports in Paris and Frankfurt already have considerably more flights each month to the three largest cities in China, thus enabling the French and German supply chains greater access to the world's manufacturing powerhouse.

Mr Matthews therefore claims that expanding Heathrow could prove crucial in the UK's ability to keep up with the rest of Europe.

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