The Airports Commission's decision to back construction of a third runway at Heathrow is positive news. However, the business, aviation and travel sectors must be realistic about progress. The proposals set out by Lord Howard Davies are only recommendations. Politicians in Westminster must now demonstrate courage, desire and vision if work is ever to start. Senior Conservative MPs, such as Boris Johnson, Philip Hammond, Theresa May, Justine Greening and Zak Goldsmith are all vehemently opposed to Heathrow expansion, which will make it difficult for the incumbent government to act upon Davies' proposals.
The caveats built into Lord Davies proposal will give those opposed to a third runway yet more scope to block progress. It is right that airports and airlines are challenged to be as environmentally responsible as possible. But there must also be recognition of the great strides the aviation sector has made in this area over recent years, and the millions that are invested in sustainability projects every year.
While ITM believes a third runway at Heathrow is top priority for the UK economy, it is not enough in the long term. A second runway is also needed at Gatwick, and investment must be made to improve capacity at other airports in the south and across the regions. If the UK wants to remain competitive on the international stage expanding our main hub at Heathrow is fundamental.