How will Heathrow runway approval affect Norfolk’s passengers and businesses?

Aerial view of Norwich Airport. Picture: Mike Page

Aerial view of Norwich Airport. Picture: Mike Page - Credit: Mike Page

A third runway will be built at Heathrow, the government confirmed this morning - but what does it mean for passengers and businesses in the east?

British Airways planes taking off and landing at London's Heathrow Airport. The Economy and Industri

British Airways planes taking off and landing at London's Heathrow Airport. The Economy and Industrial Strategy (Airports) sub-committee chaired by Theresa May will choose between a new runway at Heathrow or Gatwick or extending an existing runway at Heathrow today. Picture: Hannah McKay/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Passengers

Heathrow claims the new runway will increase the amount of direct and frequent long-haul destinations for passengers - with 40 new locations expected by 2030.

It's also likely that a greater choice of airlines will be introduced, resulting in cheaper fares.

If calls to build links with regional airports - including Norwich Airport - are heard, it could connect people all over the country with the 185 places reached by the London airport.

Currently, the main long-haul connection route from Norwich Airport is with Dutch airline KLM via Amsterdam Airport Schipol, though there have long been hopes for a greater number of flight destinations from Norwich.

At the start of October, airline Flybe said it was considering launching routes to Heathrow from various airports, including Norwich.


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An airline spokesperson yesterday said the third runway needed to become a 'hub for the whole of the UK' and called on the government to make room for 'operators of regional aircraft at affordable prices'.

If flights to Heathrow are launched, thousands of passengers in the east will have close access to a much wider range of destinations.

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The decision was welcomed by Richard Pace, managing director of Norwich Airport, who said it ended 'many years of uncertainty'.

He said: 'The decision to expand the UK's hub at Heathrow shows that the government recognises the vital role global connectivity to and from UK regional airports, such as Norwich, plays in delivering local economic growth and rebalancing the UK economy.'

Businesses

Business leaders say it is 'critical' that the third runway is used as an opportunity to forge stronger links with regional airports.

Chris Starkie, managing director of the New Anglia LEP, said building connections with Norwich Airport could unlock huge potential for businesses in the region.

'Not only is this expansion vital to the prospects of the UK economy, it also provides businesses in the east with huge opportunities,' he said.

'We will be working in the coming days and weeks to help businesses understand those opportunities and put themselves at the head of the queue in bidding for contracts as the project gets underway.'

Jonathan Cage, president of the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, agreed it was 'critical' to focus on regional connectivity - but said one runway was not enough.

He said: 'This new runway must be viewed as much about connecting the regions and nations to the world as it is about capacity for London and the south east.

'While most business communities will celebrate Heathrow expansion, this cannot and must not be the only new runway to be built in Britain over the coming decades.'

A recent Norfolk Chamber roundtable heard that the third runway could generate up to 180,000 jobs and 10,000 apprenticeships.

The effects of the expansion are likely to benefit businesses across various sectors.

Chris Brient, chairman of international freight firm Regional Freight, which has offices in both Norwich and Bristol, said the decision could help local shippers compete with rivals abroad.

He said: 'While Gatwick is a holiday airport, Heathrow has long been the cargo hub. It's absolutely a positive for the industry - we have got to compete with the likes of Amsterdam and Frankfurt, so any expansion at Heathrow can only be good for putting us on a similar level with European businesses.'

Bosses at Stansted Airport have also welcomed the decision, with chief executive Andrew Cowan saying the Essex airport had the potential to generate an extra 10,000 on-site jobs and £4.6bn in economic activity.

• Do you have a tourism story? Email lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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