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Call to end 'dithering' on airports

Business chiefs have called on ministers to end "decades of dithering" and expand UK airport capacity.

The industrial leaders, joined by MPs, said fa ilure to commit to airport expansion risked condemning the UK to being a second-rate economy until at least 2040.

The warning came at the launch of Let Britain Fly - a campaign aimed at pressurising MPs to avert the UK's "looming air capacity crunch".

It calls on all major parties to include a commitment to tackle the problem in their manifestos for the 2015 general election.

This would mean a commitment to act following the findings of the Whitehall-appointed Airports Commission, led by former Financial Services Authority chief Sir Howard Davies, which is due to make its final report in summer 2015.

Leading firms that have thrown their weight behind Let Britain Fly include Associated British Foods, Boots UK, Dixons, John Lewis, Land Securities, Lloyds Banking Group, Hilton Worldwide and Next.

Also backing the campaign are House of Commons Transport Committee chairman Louise Ellman, Commons 1922 Committee chairman Graham Brady as well as a number of other MPs.

Dixons Retail chairman John Allan said: "Sorting out policy quickly to increase airport capacity in south east England is vital to enable long-term economic growth, not just in the south east but for the UK as a whole."

Mrs Ellman said: "We need more hub capacity in the south east. Failure to tackle this means that the UK will continue to lose out to its competitors in Europe and beyond."

Mr Brady said: I t's imperative that politicians finally set their party interests to one side and forge a cross-party consensus to safeguard and enhance the UK's economic and social interests. Fifty years of political indecision is inexcusable."

Baroness Jo Valentine, chief executive of business group London First, said: "After 50 years of stop-start government mismanagement of our airport infrastructure, the Airports Commission represents the final call for politicians of all parties to step up and sort out the problem."

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