Heathrow Airport chiefs are predicting a boost for regional airports like Robin Hood Airport in Doncaster if they get the go-ahead to build a third runway.
As part of the proposals, Heathrow has made a new commitment to ensure that the whole of the UK benefits from an expansion of Heathrow, not just London and the South East.
It says it will work with airlines and the government to create better air and rail links between Heathrow to the rest of the UK, if expansion is approved.
“This would mean the potential for airlines to open new routes to the likes of Robin Hood Airport,” said a Heathrow spokesman.
“At present, airlines are prevented from offering flights to South Yorkshire because of the lack of runway capacity at Heathrow. As a result, airlines have been driven to cut 9,000 UK regional services over the 10 years that Heathrow has effectively been full.
“By expanding runway capacity, airlines will find it easier to expand the number of destinations they serve.
“Planned improvements to rail access as a result of HS2’s connection to Sheffield will see businesses in South Yorkshire enjoy speedier and more convenient access to the expanded international route network that Heathrow provides,” the spokesman added.
Heathrow says its case is backed up by research it commissioned that was carried out by specialist consultants Mott MacDonald, who have offices in Sheffield.
Mott MacDonald’s study says travellers from Sheffield would be able to reach Heathrow 30 minutes faster than Stansted, and 20 minutes faster than a new airport in the Thames Estuary – the other two options being considered for expanding the UK’s capacity as a global air transport hub.
Meanwhile, travellers from Doncaster would be able to reach Heathrow 40 minutes faster than Stansted, and 30 minutes faster than a new airport in the Thames Estuary.
Gareth Owen, a director of Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber of Commerce and a partner at Sheffield law firm Hlw Keeble Hawson, said: “The statistics are compelling.
“UK businesses trade up to 20 times more with emerging markets where there is a direct daily flight compared with those markets where there is no direct or a less frequent services.
“South Yorkshire has a global reputation for its manufacturing innovation and the growth of businesses could be hampered by poor air links.
“We must keep pace with the creation of hub regions across the rest of Europe and the world and ensure that the Sheffield City Region secures a proportion of that £14 billion worth of lost international business.”
Proposals for a third runway at Heathrow have been submitted to the Airports Commission, which is considering the need for additional UK airport capacity.