Bringing Britain Closer

Posted by Paul Cherpeau

Chief Executive

Thu 10th, May

Earlier this week, the Chamber hosted an event with Heathrow Airport to discuss the opportunities for improved UK connectivity as part of the consultation on the Government’s Airport National Policy Statement (NPS) which sets out the need for additional airport capacity in the south-east of England.

With the parliamentary vote on NPS expected in the summer, we heard from some excellent speakers from a range of sectors, all making the compelling case for the need to increase capacity for more domestic flights between London and the rest of the UK.

The clear message from Flybe, Continental Airlines and local airport operators including Liverpool John Lennon Airport was that there are two key issues we need to address to support the commercial case for increased domestic flights. They are the need to address the issue of domestic air passenger duty (APD) which is making UK airports uncompetitive and the need to increase capacity at Heathrow. All were clear that the longer we prevaricate the more likely it is that we will lose out to our global competitors.

To open up new export markets and opportunities for inward investment, particularly post Brexit, we have long argued that we must improve our existing transport infrastructure and improved access to our ports and airports to transport both people and freight is fundamental to that aim.

For the Liverpool city region we have both the opportunity to grow the leisure, tourism and retail sectors as well as promoting our expertise in areas like the creative and digital sectors. As we aspire to attract more global brands to invest in the region however, we need to be able to compete on a level playing field and be more ambitious about what we can achieve.

Supporting the Heathrow proposals is an important piece of the jigsaw and provides a timely opportunity to demonstrate how we can work in partnership at both a political and commercial level to make the case for improved global and domestic connectivity. It is simplistic to pigeon hole the Heathrow development as an investment for ‘the South’ at the expense of the North. Connectivity with the UK’s hub airport immediately enhances our ability to attract even more outstanding international conferences and visitors to the city and would boost our attractiveness to investors in campaigns such as the current bid for Channel 4.

So whilst the Heathrow link is a jigsaw piece, at the same time, we need to continue to look at the whole end to end journey experience, making the business case for improved road and rail links, if we are to achieve real parity in the domestic and global markets and position Liverpool City Region as the best place to start, locate or operate a business in the UK.

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