07 July 2014 at 08.27 GMT
Heathrow and Gatwick need two new international runways each if the UK is to remain economically competitive, according to Virgin Atlantic founder Sir Richard Branson.
Current schemes for expansion did not go nearly far enough, and even with the four additional runways he is calling for, an entirely new airport would also be needed in 20 years time.
Speaking to the Financial Sunday Express, Sir Richard said that it was imperative that two new runways are built at both Heathrow and Gatwick as quickly as possible, despite the objections of anti-aircraft noise campaigners.
“We urgently need those extra runways at Heathrow and Gatwick or we’ll go backwards,” he said.
But even if the extra runways are built at Heathrow and Gatwick, they would only “do” for 20 years. In order to maintain and improve the UK’s economic performance.
The UK would also need to build a brand new international airport, complete with new trade routes.
He also hit out at the numerous delays that have marred the process for deciding how and where to expand Britain’s airport capacity and said that he fears that any moves to build a new airport will be stymied by indecision.
Sir Richard said: “That’s the problem with us: all we do is sit around not making a decision.”
The Virgin Group chief’s call for two new runways at both Gatwick and Heathrow goes much further than expansion plans the two rival airports have submitted to the Airports Commission, which is not due to make a decision until next year.
Heathrow wants to build a third runway at the cost of £17 billion, while Gatwick wants to construct a £7.8 billion second runway. The commission is also looking at plans to extend Heathrow’s northern runway.
Sourced from Travel Weekly