Britain is bursting with entrepreneurial energy. Our products and branding are sought after the world over. This craving for British-made products and services has seen our startups exporting at a rate of knots, and there are more banging on the door to explore the globe. The problem is that not everyone can fit through the doorway. A lack of runways at our airports is stifling growth of British small businesses - and it’s time the government moved things forward. 

We spoke to the teams behind the campaigns for a new runway at Heathrow and Gatwick aiports about what impact building a new runway will have on entrepreneurship in the UK.

Andrew MacMillan, Heathrow Director of Strategy

“If the Government is serious about making a success of post-Brexit Britain, it needs to invest in a new runway. At Heathrow last year we were responsible for 29% of all exports outside the EU.

A third runway will help open up 40 new markets to British businesses, increasing trade and boosting the UK’s economy by up to £211bn. Britain’s exporters are open for business, and the government need to show the world that we are serious about being an outward-facing, trading nation.

Regular flights from Heathrow enable entrepreneurs to meet demand for just-in-time goods from growing markets like Jakarta, one of the world’s most populous cities - its economy grew by 5% last year. 

Capacity constraints at Heathrow means airlines can’t meet demand to new markets - for example Garuda Airlines, Indonesia’s national carrier, had to wait eight years for its landing slot at Heathrow, while another 32 airlines are queuing for availability. Each one is a missed economic opportunity for British exporters.

While Heathrow remains constrained, existing long-haul trading routes are starting to fill up, with cargo demand from British exporters exceeding available space in some aircraft holds. The squeeze is most pronounced on routes to Asia, a region where consumer spend is expected to reach $32trillion by 2030.

The resulting increase in international trade from opening a new runway would give Britain the best possible chance of a bright economic future outside the EU, allowing businesses to be fleet of foot, win orders, retain customers and hire more staff than their overseas rivals.”

Gatwick’s Director of Corporate Affairs and Sustainability, Charles Kirwan-Taylor:

"There are five million small businesses operating in the UK, and many more are looking to the international market to sell their products and services to the world. A new runway would make it easier for start-ups to meet new contacts, research markets and source suppliers.

At the moment, Gatwick reaches 220 destinations. The demand for new direct connections is evident with 6 million passengers travelling to a long haul destination from Gatwick last year. This trend shows no sign of slowing down, with new long-haul routes continuing to be introduced from Gatwick to Hong Kong, Tianjin, Chongqing in China, and numerous destinations in both the US and Canada. Many of these new routes are operated by low-cost carriers that suit the cost-conscious requirements of UK start-ups.

With a second runway, we can continue to help entrepreneurs around the UK to thrive and grow, at a price that they and the country can afford. 

Expanding Gatwick would also inject greater competition into the London airport sector.  A two-runway Gatwick competing vigorously with a two-runway Heathrow would deliver cheaper flights, better service and more destinations at both airports, making both more accessible and affordable to young professionals – and making it easier still for the country’s entrepreneurs to use airports as their gateway to the world, and to the rest of Britain.

Equally, a new runway will make Britain more attractive as a destination for businesses across five continents to seek import/export opportunities in the UK."

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