Heathrow commits to help regional air expansion

Heathrow has announced a new package of commitments, deliverable with expansion, that will strengthen connections to Leeds Bradford Airport and help businesses across Yorkshire connect to growth markets around the world.

As the UK’s only hub airport, Heathrow connects to 75 destinations not served by other UK airports. The package is designed to help support routes from Leeds Bradford to the hub and includes a review of Heathrow’s charges for domestic routes to be implemented next January. A £10 million Route Development Fund will also provide start-up support for new routes between airports like Leeds Bradford and Heathrow where needed.

While critical to Yorkshire’s economy, the Leeds Bradford to Heathrow route has had an uncertain past. It was withdrawn between 2009 and 2012. Even now, the first departure from Leeds Bradford to Heathrow lands after 10:30am, and the last return flight takes-off before 3pm. This schedule significantly reduces the chances of a convenient connection time for passengers flying from Yorkshire onto growth markets around the world.

Recent research shows how an expanded Heathrow will benefit Yorkshire, with the region expected to receive up to £9 billion in economic growth and 11,200 new jobs.

The new commitments outline actions Heathrow will takebefore expansion, including:

  • A review of airport charges on domestic routes from 1 of January 2016 to help play our part in increasing their commercial viability.
  • Partnering with UK airports, LEPs, chambers of commerce, national and regional governments to jointly approach airlines to improve existing routes to ensure greater frequencies and better-timing.

After expansion, Heathrow has committed to help establish new links to airports not connected to the UK’s only hub airport by:

  • Establishing a new Heathrow Route Development Fund. £10 million in start-up capital for airlines to support up to five new routes for three years where the market doesn’t initially provide them
  • Working with government to re-designate Public Service Obligation (PSO) routes to Heathrow, the only airport that can connect them to and through London to growth markets across the globe.

The measures would boost the seven existing routes, offering the potential for better timed and more frequent flights. In addition, our analysis indicates that passengers would be able to fly from nine domestic airports not currently served by Heathrow, meaning that a total of at least 16 regional airports will have the opportunity of direct links to the UK’s hub.

Commenting on the commitments, John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow CEO, said:“We’re ready to connect Yorkshire to global growth. We have been listening to businesses, politicians and now to the National Connectivity Task Force, and today’s announcement shows that we have a plan to deliver what Britain needs.  Only Heathrow can connect all of Britain to global growth. That’s why we are best for Britain and backed by Britain. Let’s get on with it. “

Mark Goldstone, Head of Policy at West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said“Expansion at Heathrow will ensure investors around the world have access to Yorkshire and strengthen our businesses ability to compete for global growth.This plan will deliver more jobs for our region, boost our economy and ensure Yorkshire continues to grow as an attractive place to live and work.”