NCTF welcomes London Heathrow's new measures to connect nations and regions.

Monday 23rd March 2015

The National Connectivity Task Force (NCTF) today welcomed London Heathrow's package of measures designed to connect UK nations and regions to growth markets around the world. Conditional upon expansion, London Heathrow's new measures would enable up to nine new air links to the airport and increased frequency on seven existing routes. The package would also include a new £10 million Heathrow Route Development Fund and a review of airport charges to help it play its part in keeping existing domestic routes commercially attractive to airlines.

London Heathrow states that these commitments together would have the potential to deliver billions of pounds worth of trade and investment opportunities, reversing a lost decade of connectivity which has seen regional connections to long-haul markets squeezed out of the UK's hub airport.

The new measures are a response to the recommendations published last week by the NCTF. Commenting, Lord John Shipley, Chair of the NCTF, said: 'We welcome the speedy and constructive response of Heathrow to our report.

They have clearly signalled their intention to engage positively in delivering the enhanced accessibility agenda the National Connectivity Task Force set out. From the feedback we have already received to our report we know that regional airlines, many UK regional airports and the regions, home nations and Crown Dependencies they serve are also keen to do so. To close the circle and enable real progress to be made, it now remains for the Airports Commission, Government and the industry regulator to support what has been proposed in the form of adopted policy and pro-active engagement to ensure its delivery. There is a large constituency of interests who are now looking to, and will support, strong strategic leadership from Government in this area.

"This is because it is clearly recognised that enhanced air connectivity is of fundamental importance to re-balancing the economy across the whole of the UK, not just London and the South East. Today, only 7 UK airports have domestic connections with the UK's global hub at Heathrow whereas 20 years ago it was 17. We cannot go on giving preference to international routes at the expense of our domestic routes, especially as and when new runway capacity is brought online. With connections to hubs elsewhere in Europe likely to become more difficult in the future, it is vitally important that we nurture our domestic connections so that the whole of the UK can become and remain globally connected."

The NCTF published its report on March 16th outlining the conclusions of a comprehensive and independent study carried out by the Task Force 'Air Connectivity Matters - Linking the Nations and Regions of Britain to London and the World.

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