Contractor says rapid airport expansion will be needed post-Brexit

The £17.6bn expansion of Heathrow airport should be sped up to ensure the UK remains competitive post-Brexit, Balfour Beatty has urged.

In an aviation report entitled Getting off the Ground, published today, Britain’s largest contractor says additional airport capacity will be needed not just at Heathrow, but also at Gatwick and across the UK.

It warns that a lack of direct connections to emerging markets will hold the economy back, with trade instead going to better connected European countries.

Under the existing timetable, Heathrow wants to start expansion work in early 2021, with the runway opening in 2025 and the entire programme completing in 2030. The airport plans to make extensive use of off-site construction techniques on the programme.

Balfour’s paper suggests Scotland, Birmingham and Manchester as some of the regions that would be prime candidates for additional aviation capacity.

Leo Quinn, Balfour Beatty chief executive, said: “In a post-Brexit Britain, international interconnectivity will be even more important so it is crucial that we start boosting our aviation capacity sooner rather than later in order to retain our competitive edge in a global market.

“Consideration of where to add capacity must be given not just to London and the South-east but all regions. Failure to take this UK wide approach could see our trade with international markets and potential economic growth fail to get off the ground. The right approach will put aviation at the heart of the UK’s industrial strategy and deliver the economic growth and dynamism that the UK needs.”