Expansion plans for Newcastle airport

20.1.2009   (Shields Gazette)


A CALL to expand Newcastle Airport has been given cross-party support by all
South Tyneside’s political groups.

Labour, Tory and Independent councillors have voiced their support for a plea
for the airport, which moved 5.6m passengers last year, to be expanded.

The call comes after pro-aviation group Flying Matters said both Newcastle and
Durham Tees Valley airports should be extended to safeguard the region’s jobs.

International visitors to North East England are expected to double to more than
a million a year by 2030 and may bring thousands of new jobs to the region’s tourism

Labour councillor John Anglin, said: “As the world gets smaller, and the economy
becomes increasingly global, air flight will increase, so we in North East England
need to be at the forefront.

“We need a first-class airport and first-class national and international connections.
This will increase both national and international trade, and in so doing, create
the sustainable jobs that the north east needs.”

He said expansion needn’t come at the cost of the environment, adding: “We won’t
stop the world expanding.

“What we need is the introduction of more efficient and cleaner types of energy
and fuel.”

Independent councillor Ahmed Khan said: “Manchester Airport proves that a regional
airport can become a global hub.

“Strong transport links are key to the region and the borough, and help bring
trade to the area. I strongly support this campaign, and I hope it will be looked
into further.”

Coun David Potts, leader of the Conservative group on South Tyneside Council,
said: “An expansion of Newcastle airport would be fantastic for our region.

“I hope this will lead to a direct New York-to-Newcastle link, as had previously
been planned by American Airlines.

“We must ensure that if an expansion does go ahead it is done sensitively with
the views of local residents taken into account.”

Seven local authorities have a stake in the airport, and South Tyneside Council
is the lead authority among them in its management.

Newcastle Airport’s head of planning and corporate affairs, Graeme Mason, said:
“The continued growth of Newcastle Airport is critical to the north east economy.

“An important part of our route network is the connectivity we provide to London
Heathrow, the UK’s primary hub airport.”

He added that he backed the Government in its support for a third runway at Heathrow.

Former Labour MP Brian Wilson, chairman of Flying Matters, said: “When we begin
to emerge from the current recession, only countries which have world-class international
airports and connections will be able to take full advantage of the predicted
growth in international visitors and trade.

“Without them, it won’t be goods or services we’re exporting – it will be jobs.”