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The lack of capacity at Heathrow Airport is costing the UK up to £14billion a year, according to a report commissioned by the airport.

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The research from Frontier Economics says that the UK’s connectivity needs can only be met by a single hub airport which is “home to British Airways”, meaning the expansion of Heathrow or the replacement of the site with a new hub airport.

The report, One Hub or None, sets out the current situation at Heathrow before arguing for a single hub airport.

It says: “International connectivity through a hub airport supports economic growth. UK businesses trade 20 times more with emerging markets with daily flights than those with less frequent or no direct service. In addition, the rate of growth in UK trade is substantially lower where daily flight connections with Heathrow are not available.

“Yet constraints at Heathrow - which is running at over 99 per cent capacity - mean that the UK is unable to serve growing international demand. Heathrow is permitted 480,000 flights a year. All four of Heathrow’s competitor European hub airports - Paris, Frankfurt, Madrid and Amsterdam - have enough runway capacity to serve around 700,000 flights per year.

“As a consequence Heathrow is slipping out of the Premier League of Europe’s international hub airports. Paris and Frankfurt will push Heathrow into third place in Europe within the next 10 years.”

Having two hub airports, or a split hub, will not work, says the report, which argues instead for just one hub airport.

It says: “Only a single southeast airport, home to British Airways, can operate as a hub.”

One Hub or None sets out three options for the UK government - doing nothing and letting the UK fall behind its “European competitors at the cost of lost growth and jobs”; adding additional capacity at Heathrow; or closing Heathrow and replacing it with a new hub airport.

Colin Matthews, Heathrow’s chief executive, said: “If anyone was still in doubt about the importance of aviation to the UK economy, today’s report should lay those doubts to rest.

“We’re already losing out on up to £14bn of trade a year – and that could almost double by 2030.

“The new work we are publishing today shows that only a single hub airport can meet the UK’s connectivity needs and the choice is therefore between adding capacity at Heathrow or closing Heathrow and replacing it with a new UK hub airport.”

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