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London business leaders call for better and therefore bigger Heathrow

Business organisation London First has today urged the Government to press ahead with expansion at Heathrow as the only way to cater for increasing business travel demand, subject to strict conditions.

The poor service levels experienced by business passengers at Heathrow airport, deterring business travel into the capital, have been a primary concern for London First. To improve the experience and keep business flying via London Heathrow and the UK, more headroom from an additional runway is vitally needed.

Baroness Jo Valentine, Chief Executive of London First, said:

“Business needs to fly. London’s economic recovery, as the leading centre for world trade, at least partly depends on access to high quality, reliable air travel. Aviation must be included in international carbon trading. But a third runway, with unshakeable conditions on service quality and environmental performance, would allow London once again to confidently boast about its access to global markets.”

London First has called for the following measures to accompany expansion at Heathrow:

1. Put the Passenger first
Regulation should be modernised to drive up service quality, reducing queues and flight delays and maintaining and improving terminal ‘fabric’.

2. Don’t sweat the assets to breaking point
Mixed mode – using both runways in parallel for landing and takeoff – should be used first and foremost to reduce delays, not to increase flights. There should be no new flights until Heathrow has a level of performance that matches the best in Europe.

3. Adjust slot rules
So that flight numbers don’t just ratchet up again to 99% of capacity. Flight numbers should be able to fall if targets on punctuality, noise or pollution are breached. Again, there should be no new flights before this requirement.

4. Introduce a new ratchet – downwards – on air pollution and noise
Cap noise and air pollution levels, with an independent body to measure them. Lower this cap over time to encourage technological innovation and minimise the impact on the local environment.

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Notes to Editors

1. Full details of London First’s final conclusions on how to improve the Heathrow passenger experience can be found at:

2. London First published its report, Imagine a World Class Heathrow, in Summer 2008, followed by a consultation on the report’s recommendations. Copies of the report are available here.

3. London First is a business membership organisation whose mission is to make London the best city in the world in which to do business. London First undertakes this by mobilising the experience, expertise and enthusiasm of the private sector to develop practical solutions to the challenges facing London. London First also seeks to persuade central and London government to make the investments that London needs in its infrastructure

4. London First delivers its activities with the support of the capital’s major businesses in key sectors such as finance, professional services, property, ICT, creative industries, hospitality and retail. Membership also includes all of London’s universities as well as further education colleges and NHS hospital trusts. London First members represent over a quarter of London’s GDP.

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