Fri 20th Jun 2014
Heathrow pledges to connect Northern Ireland’s companies to emerging markets
Businesses in Northern Ireland will benefit from better connections to emerging markets if Heathrow is granted expansion – that was the message set out by Heathrow in a speech hosted by Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NI Chamber) on the evening of 19 June 2014.
Speaking at the event, Matt Gorman, Heathrow’s Director of Sustainability, pledged that Heathrow would add 40 new routes to international markets, helping businesses throughout the UK connect to rapidly growing emerging economies in Asia, Latin America and North America. The airport has set up a regional connectivity task force to develop policy proposals and recommendations for improving regional access to an expanded Heathrow. The group will include representatives of regional airports, Chambers of Commerce, LEPs, business people from around the UK and airlines.
The move follows a year of consultation with businesses across the UK, during which Chambers of Commerce across the country emphasised the central role connections play to business. Belfast City Airport’s top five destinations via Heathrow are Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Geneva, Toronto and Singapore, showing how important Heathrow is to making these links to international markets.
Companies such as Pinsent Mason LLP in Northern Ireland rely on Heathrow for business. The law firm’s office in Belfast forms part of the company’s international network of 20 offices across the UK, Europe, the Gulf and Asia Pacific. Staff and clients rely on the daily link from Belfast to Heathrow to connect with their global office network. As the firm’s office network grows, new routes, which are currently unavailable due to constrained hub capacity at Heathrow, will be required.
Matt Gorman, Director of Sustainability said:
“Northern Ireland business is heavily reliant on connections to international markets through Heathrow. As the UK’s only hub airport, we want to add up to 40 new long-haul, direct routes and improve our connectivity to other UK airports such as George Best Belfast City Airport. We believe that our regional connectivity task force will help to determine the needs of the regions and shape our proposed expansion plans.”
Ann McGregor, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry said:
“The route between Belfast and Heathrow is vital for the local economy, with Oxford Economics estimating these flights currently generate 900 jobs in Northern Ireland. An expanded Heathrow with improved connectivity to growth markets would further improve the attractiveness of Northern Ireland to global investors. We look forward to contributing to the Heathrow regional connectivity task force.”
Heathrow recently submitted its refined plans for a third runway to the airports commission following from discussions with local residents and businesses, the public, businesses around the country, passengers, airlines and elected representatives across the UK’s nations and regions. Heathrow is the UK’s only hub and the only option that will connect the whole of the UK to new emerging economies, bringing jobs and prosperity to the country.