Heathrow expansion – how could it impact on small businesses?

We consider the business repercussions of a bigger Heathrow.

If the Airports Commission has their way Heathrow could be getting a third runway, their recent government-backed report arguing that it offers a better deal than Gatwick’s expansion. The debate rages on, but this recent development is pretty significant, suggesting that sooner or later London’s Heathrow could be Europe’s busiest airport by far.

So if Heathrow does see its new runway built, how could small businesses be impacted?

Increased overseas opportunity

A third runway means more capacity and more flights going to and fro. Estimates expect around 250,000 more flights to be added every year, bringing with them extra freight space and access to 40 new destinations.

For exporting and ambitious businesses the increased opportunities are clear, a third runway increasing their trade potential whilst opening up new frontiers.

Plus more prospects on our own doorstep…

Over the course of 60 years analysts suggest a Heathrow expansion could bring an extra £147bn to GDP, creating around 70,000 new jobs by 2050.

A knock-on effect is expected on businesses big and small, with a third runway thought to improve the country’s economic prospects. Without it, “the long-term economic health of the UK is at risk” according to the FSB.

But could it mean a bigger North-South divide?

Despite the backing of organisations like the FSB, there remains caution around expansion in some parts of the country.

Paul Faulkner - chief executive of the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce - believes “It will not help job creation outside of the south-east” whilst a recent report by economic analysts Oxera suggests it would do little to balance the economy. The Airports Commission argues against these concerns though, suggesting a third runway would give a “£25bn boost to the Northern economy.”

And what about Heathrow’s local businesses?

With Heathrow expansion there’s suggestions that over 50 per cent of the village of Harmondsworth could be lost forever, with schools, homes and dozens of businesses facing demolition - although they ought to be fully compensated.

Understandably many villagers are fiercely opposed and present significant hurdles to the plan, illustrating one of the many challenges facing a third runway…

How do you think a Heathrow expansion would impact on your business? Let us know in the comments below.

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