CBI hits back on Heathrow runway

6.5.2009   (Financial Times)

By Brian Groom, Business and Employment Editor

There is a “strong consensus” among CBI members that a third runway for Heathrow
airport must go ahead, Richard Lambert, the business group’s director-general,
insisted yesterday.

Mr Lambert told the Financial Times he did not want to “get into a punch-up”
with 13 leading executives who have called for a halt to the third runway in favour
of more high-speed rail.

But, he said: “For a majority of our members the argument is that the UK needs
a hub airport rather than being at the end of a branch line from France and the

Heathrow expansion was so important, he said, that steeper cuts in carbon emissions
must be made in other sectors to allow it to proceed while meeting the government’s
target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80%
by 2050.

There was support from David Frost, director-general of the British Chambers
of Commerce, who said his organisation would continue to support the third runway.

Although many regional businesses saw loss of services from their local airports
as a bigger issue, Mr Frost said: “We don’t want to see it as an either/or – Heathrow
expansion at the expense of cutbacks in services from regional airports. They
do understand that it’s a hub.”

Cracks in business unity over Heathrow opened up this week when an open letter
attacking the third runway was signed by business leaders including James Murdoch,
head of News Corporation in Europe and Asia; Justin King, chief executive of J.
Sainsbury and Ian Cheshire, chief executive of Kingfisher.

They argued that the benefits to business were un-proven because there was no
guarantee that extra international destinations or domestic connections would
be opened up. Alternatives had not been fully explored and the impact on the environment
was too great to ignore.

Mr Lambert said the letter was not a surprise because it was a controversial
issue on which there had never been unanimity among businesses.     But, he said:
“There is a strong consensus among our members that the third runway has a very
important role to play in the future of the UK economy and that it’s the right
thing to do.”

He added that the number of transit passengers using Heathrow made it possible
to support flights to distant spots that would not be justified on a point-to-point
basis, such as Chennai and Bangalore in India. London’s share of such destinations
had been falling in recent years.

Mr Lambert said the CBI’s support for a third runway was conditional on European
Union environmental re-quirements being met and on the aviation industry continuing
to improve fuel efficiency.

Citing support from the government’s Committee on Climate Change, Mr Lambert
said: “There will be some sectors where emissions will rise over the years ahead.
To meet 80 per cent emissions reductions, others will have to do more if we think
that aviation is important.”

Environmental lobbyists will see the CBI’s stance as undermining its efforts
to burnish its green credentials.





see also




CBI tested in spat over Heathrow runway

News Item added: 5th May 2009

The CBI is facing a stern test of its authority as the main voice of business
after its supportive stance on Heathrow’s expansion was undermined by a band of
prominent executives. Ministers have claimed for months that the scheme has the
solid support of business groups such as the British Chambers of Commerce, CBI
and London First. But cracks in that unified front have appeared after a letter
calling for a halt to the 3rd runway. (FT)



“We can have air travel in a low-carbon age” – says BAA chairman

News Item added: 5th May 2009

Nigel Rudd says the aviation industry can work effectively at the heart of a
global low-carbon economy. Somehow we can have expanded aviation and lower emissions.
He hopes that, as long as we start now and let a third Heathrow runway be built,
the industry will somehow find ways to cut emissions by 35-45% by 2025, as long
as we use enough technology. We have to we to stimulate economic growth to underwrite
the investments in technology. etc etc. (Times)













Business can do without a Heathrow third runway – letter from 13 business leaders

News Item added: 4th May 2009

A letter to the Times, signed by 13 top business leaders including Ian Cheshire
(Chief Executive, Kingfisher), Russell Chambers (Adviser, Credit Suisse), Jon
Moulton (Founder, Alchemy Partners) says it is a misconception that the business
community support the Government rationale for a 3rd runway at Heathrow. They
say the business benefits are unclear and unproven, and there is little benefit
from increased reliance on transfer passengers. (Times)








Top business executives lead revolt on Heathrow 3rd runway

News Item added: 3rd May 2009

The leaders of some of Britain’s biggest companies have begun a revolt against
plans for a 3rd runway at Heathrow. The campaign includes chief executives of
leading companies – J Sainsbury, Carphone Warehouse, Kingfisher, and Compass.
One group member said many people in business have misgivings about the decision
on the 3rd runway, and it’s possible to be pro-transport, pro-aviation and yet,
at the same time, pro responsible citizenship – and the real business case for
the expansion has not been made. (Sunday Times)