Heathrow Airport bosses have pledged benefits for the whole of the UK through their third runway expansion plans, providing a boon to the North East economy as it improves access to overseas markets.
The London airport has put forward three options for a new third runway, each of which will allow it to move from 480,000 flights a year to 740,000, while fewer people would be affected by noise than at present.
A sixth terminal will also be required, with a new runway meaning the airport will be able to handle 130 million passengers a year rather than the current figure of 70 million.
As part of the proposals, Heathrow has unveiled a new commitment to ensure that the whole of the UK benefits from an expansion of Heathrow, not just London and the South East.
To help connect UK nations and regions to global markets, Heathrow has pledged to work with airlines and government to deliver better air and rail links from Heathrow to the rest of the UK, if the expansion is approved. For Newcastle and the North East, this would mean the potential for airlines to offer more frequent daily flights from Newcastle to Heathrow, making it easier for businesses in Newcastle to connect to international destinations, while additional runway capacity would make it easier for airlines to offer regular flights to key international destinations, including in countries like China, India, Russia, Brazil and other emerging markets.
Graeme Mason, planning and corporate affairs director, Newcastle International Airport, said: “It is critical for the UK economy that we retain our premier hub position within the world aviation market and Heathrow is the UK’s hub – and we believe it presents the most viable option for a continued hub role.
“These options look to address the noise issue, but also from a cost point of view, with commercial viability and attractiveness to airlines, it will be among the strongest choices.
“Expansion is also important for the North East. Our Heathrow service is the biggest single connection we have, within the region of 500,000 passengers a year, so it is critical that it is maintained and grows.
“That is why we participated last week in the Davies Commission public evidence process, expressing our support for Heathrow, but also asking it to consider ways of ensuring that extra runway capacity can be used to safeguard access for regional air services, possibly by moderating the charging structure so that region services can afford to take off and land.”
Mark Stephenson, policy team leader at the North East Chamber of Commerce added: “It is time decision-makers treat Heathrow for what it is, a national asset that generates wealth and assures jobs across the whole country. International markets are vital for the North East economy.”