Calls for govt to depoliticise the debate on Heathrow expansion

The government’s ability to provide sufficient support for the UK’s small business community has been questioned at a debate on Heathrow’s airport expansion plans.

The Federation of Small Businesses’ (FSB) senior development manager, Matt Jaffa, said business confidence has been lost since the deferred decision on airport expansion.

Jaffa added: “We have a government that hasn’t been able to make a strong firm decision on the matter, which is what this debate needs.”

With up to 25% of FSB members exporting on a regular basis, many SMEs rely on aviation to grow their business in terms of both access to destinations and flight frequency. Paul Wait, chief executive of GTMC, a body for Travel Management Companies (TMCs) and the business travel community in the UK (pictured), said: “Procurement is the bugbear of small businesses. We want to see businesses grow into larger supply chains and at the moment many don’t have the resources to be able to.”

With 35 national airports supporting plans of a third runway, the 43-year-old veteran in the aviation sector emphasised the importance of expansion regionally. Lost productivity on non-direct flights and “old-fashioned thinking across airline communities with regards to cost” are factors stunting the potential for entrepreneurs to travel more frequently, according to Wait.

Commenting on the decision that the prime minister is expected to make in June, Jaffa said: “The government needs to depoliticise the debate and follow Davies, a report they themselves commissioned, to make a decision that should have been made decades ago.”