Decision over Heathrow 'to be made by Christmas'
A long-awaited government decision on the expansion of Heathrow will be made by Christmas, it has emerged.
Speaking at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin confirmed that ministers will respond shortly to the Airports Commission's recommendation for a third runway at Heathrow.
The airport is stepping up its campaign in Northern Ireland for support for a third runway claiming that up to 3,400 new manufacturing jobs would be created here if the airport is allowed to grow.
It quotes research by the consultancy firm Quod, estimating that almost 95,000 manufacturing jobs would be created across the UK, with Northern Ireland getting a share.
A Heathrow spokesman said: "As a trade-intensive industry, the sector is expected to benefit significantly from new and improved trade links, as well as from the ripple effect of Heathrow related growth across other sectors."
However, Gatwick airport hit back, claiming that a third runway at Heathrow would not deliver what was promised.
"Heathrow expansion will lead several UK cities to lose connectivity as the airport's domestic destinations fall by half to just four," said Gatwick's chief executive, Stewart Wingate.
Stephen Kelly, who is chief executive of the employers' group Manufacturing NI, said: "Undoubtedly, better connections to cities throughout the world would be of benefit to Northern Ireland manufacturers.
"But we're unclear about how Heathrow has reached these conclusions about job numbers.
"Of course, any good news about infrastructure projects is good for business and our members would hope to get a share in that work, whichever airport is chosen for expansion."