Many of the industries in which we are globally competitive, such as electronics, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, insurance and telecommunications, are dependent on aviation. No other form of transport can match aviation in its speed, efficiency and global reach. Airports are gateways to the world, vital for business activity, family and leisure travel.

However, in recent decades the ability of our major airports to continue to provide a first class service has been brought into question as capacity has become increasingly stretched. At our only major hub, Heathrow, the two runways run at near 99% capacity. Members continue to tell me that they are frustrated at the length of delays they are subjected to and complain about the user experience – itself a function of scarce capacity. As airlines continue to compete for limited slots the amount of destinations served has fallen while the regions have lost vital links to Heathrow and subsequently the rest of the world.

At a time of recession it has become acutely apparent how important connectivity is for the UK economy as businesses seek to develop new opportunities that will allow them to prosper. Yet without additional capacity at our major hub the UK will continue to fall behind its competitors. The age old phrase ‘time is money’ is apt as we look for solutions going forward. We must invest now to safeguard our economic future.

The British Chambers of Commerce has commissioned this report specifically to highlight the economic benefits of hub airports to the UK economy.