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Airport crisis may cause UK nosedive

Tuesday, November 26, 2013 - 02:46

Nov. 26 - China is building 20 airports a year - the UK can't even manage one new runway. Business leaders have had enough and as Ivor Bennett reports they're demanding Britain gets flying again.

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SOUNDBITE (English) IVOR BENNETT, REUTERS REPORTER, SAYING: "It may not look like it, but this area of land is seen by some as the key to Britain's economic future. I'm standing on the Thames Estuary outside London. And within just 7 years, this could be transformed into a major new airport." The site's been dubbed Boris Island, after its main champion, London mayor Boris Johnson. The 47-billion-pound project would see a 6 runway airport built on an artificial island, with capacity for 170 million passengers a year. The project's one of several suggested solutions to the problem of airport capacity in England's south-east. London's largest airport Heathrow is already full. The region's other main airports Gatwick and Stansted are expected to reach capacity by 2030. The calls to find more room are growing louder than ever. Colin Stanbridge from the London Chamber of Commerce. SOUNDBITE (English) COLIN STANBRIDGE, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, LONDON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY, SAYING: "If we want to have more jobs, which means more taxes, more hospitals, more schools, then we need to have more trade. And that means having more runway capacity. The two go together. Without them, the economy cannot get to its full capacity." Studies predict Britain would lose up to 47 billion pounds through lost trade if it doesn't expand London's airport capacity. Over a 100 leading businesses have joined this campaign group, calling on the government to act. Dixons Retail Chairman John Allan is one of those on board. SOUNDBITE (English) JOHN ALLAN, CHAIRMAN, DIXONS RETAIL PLC, SAYING: "As a retailer, tourism is a vital source of revenue for us and for many other businesses, big and small. And again, airline capacity is vital if the UK is going to get its share of the tourism market." This was the last full-length runway to be built in England's South East - back in World War Two. With China building 20 AIRPORTS a year, Britain is fast falling behind. As well as the new Estuary hub, other proposals include extra runways at Heathrow and Gatwick. But airport expansion is no easy task in Britain - Government shave been trying to find a solution for nearly 50 years. Industry analyst Howard Wheeldon. SOUNDBITE (English) HOWARD WHEELDON, AVIATION ANALYST, SAYING: "It's a political hot potato. It's very difficult. It's the combination of the 'not in my back yard', and of course MPs have a responsibility to the voters they want to draw out at the polls, And nobody wants that airport or airport expansion. They don't want the supposed noise." The current government's set up a commission to solve the problem. A shortlist of sites will be presented next month. But with political implications still taking a front seat, a final decision won't be made until 2015, after the next election.

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Airport crisis may cause UK nosedive

Tuesday, November 26, 2013 - 02:46