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Newcastle International Airport bosses say Heathrow work will help region's services
AIRPORT leaders have backed plans to expand the UK's aviation capacity, saying the move will provide crucial security to North-East services.
Newcastle International Airport (NIA) says proposals to build a third runway at Heathrow would help maintain the region's vital connection with the South.
The plans, revealed by the Airports Commission, have been supported by NIA bosses, who believe adding to Heathrow's provision would keep the North-East tied to a major transport hub and further strengthen its existing flights.
Earlier this year, NIA revealed a master plan to create more than 2,000 jobs and double passenger numbers to about 8.5 million by 2030, which it says could be supported by a larger Heathrow.
It joined forces with the North-East Chamber of Commerce to spell out Heathrow's importance to the North-East in offering links to emerging markets such as China and Brazil, and has also revealed a succession of new routes, including Dublin, Brussels and Gatwick.
Its plans come as rival Durham Tees Valley Airport aims to stem annual £2m losses by looking to sell land for housing and develop on-site businesses, underpinned by flights to Amsterdam and Aberdeen.
Graeme Mason, NIA planning and corporate affairs director, said: “We believe our services, such as Emirates, KLM and Air France, are all very important, but we need the Heathrow expansion as well.
“With the two runways at Heathrow coming close to capacity, there is the risk that regional air services could get squeezed out.
“Adding an runway at Heathrow would help strengthen the North-East.”
The Airports Commission report also revealed it had shortlisted proposals for a new runway at Gatwick Airport, and has not ruled an extension of Heathrow's Northern runway, allowing it to operate as two independent runways.
Colin Mathews, Heathrow chief executive, previously said the UK aviation sector had to adapt to keep pace with the rest of the world, which would benefit the North-East.
He said: “The UK desperately needs a single hub airport with the capacity to provide the links to emerging economies which can boost trade, growth and jobs.
"This would enable airlines to offer more frequent daily flights from Newcastle to Heathrow, making it easier for companies throughout the North-East to connect to key international destinations like China, India and Russia.”
However, Councillor Jamie Macrae, chairman of the Strategic Aviation Special Interest Group of local authorities, said it was concerned over the wider benefits of the plans.
He said: “None of the long-term proposals outside the South-East that were considered by the commission are being supported and we now need to look at the impact this will have on the growth of regional economies.”
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