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NEWS Last modified on January 27, 2015

Report finds emerging economies dominating airport expansion

Emerging economies dominate the list of countries with plans for airport expansion, reflecting a shift in the global economy that risks leaving the UK behind, according to a new analysis of the sector.

The analysis produced by KPMG on behalf of the Let Britain Fly campaign reveals the world’s major cities plan to have built over 50 new runways by 2036, with Asian economies chief amongst those that will provide the capacity for an extra one billion passenger journeys per year.

It compares projected runway and passenger numbers for gateways around the world and illustrates the huge scale of infrastructure projects, which will be undertaken over the next 20 years.

KPMG says nations leading the charge for global connectivity include:

-       China, which will have built 17 new runways to serve its major cities by 2036, with the capacity for 400 million passenger journeys;

-       Dubai, where the World Central Airport project will provide more passenger capacity than all of London’s airports combined;

-       A new six-runway airport in Istanbul, which will have almost twice the passenger capacity of Heathrow;

-       Others leading the drive for extra air capacity include Manila, Singapore, Bangkok, Mexico City and Mumbai.

The analysis explains this contrasts this with the UK, which has not built a new full-length runway in the South East since the Second World War, and currently has no confirmed plans to increase its capacity. All of London’s main airports are predicted to be full by 2030.

The analysis also found that without expansion London could lose daily connections with up to twenty international cities that it would otherwise have had.

These missed connections could result in less trade, tourism and investment with and from some of the fastest growing regions in the world, impacting on UK jobs and economic growth.

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Gavin Hayes, director of the Let Britain Fly campaign, says: “This work reaffirms the need for additional runway capacity in the South East if Britain is to remain a serious contender on the world stage.

“With all of London’s airports predicted to be at capacity by the end of the next decade, it is more important than ever that political action is taken to ensure we do not fall behind our international rivals.

“The rest of the world isn’t going to wait patiently for us to catch up.”

James Stamp, global head of aviation at KPMG, says the report shows that the debate about new runways in the UK is not just about where to lay 3000 metres of concrete, it is a debate that is “fundamentally rooted in how we secure our future economic prosperity”.

Stamp adds: “The emerging markets matter because within about a decade over half the growth in the world will come from these economies.

“The report highlights that we need to make sure we are connected to that future growth, however, as things stand, Paris, for example, has 50% more flights to China than London.

“Further delays means that London becomes less connected, and less competitive.”

Let Britain Fly is calling on politicians to publicly agree to be guided by the recommendations of the Airports Commission to ensure that London remains a global aviation hub and continues to provide connections to both new and established markets.

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