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The freight industry has welcomed the news of the UK government decision on expansion at Heathrow – although the airport must still await approval from MPs.

However, there remains some scepticism that the government will “act in a timely way” on its decision, with BIFA director general Robert Keen saying he “won’t be booking a ticket for the opening ceremony [of the additional runaway] just yet”.

“Hopefully, today’s news is the beginning of the end of years of procrastination over the expansion of UK aviation capacity,” he said.

“If that is the case, it is long overdue good news for our 1,500 member companies which have been dismayed over the delay on such a huge issue.

“However, we understand that MPs will now be asked to vote on the issue in the coming weeks and, given the track record of parliament on this issue over the last 20 years, uncertainties remain.”

He believes “inevitable legal challenges and the convoluted planning processes” will cast doubt over whether the expansion will be completed before capacity runs out in 2025.

Heathrow Cargo noted that the constraints limit the UK’s potential trade growth, and welcomed the government announcement.

“Our current capacity constraints mean that many of Britain’s key trade routes from our airport are unable to accommodate further trade growth,” said Nick Platts, head of cargo for the airport.

“The airport’s expansion couldn’t be more important for Britain’s future, allowing us to double our cargo capacity, relieve pressure on those already constrained routes and unlock 40 new long-haul trading routes providing new trading opportunities for businesses up and down the country.”

The Freight Transport Association added that a third runway would make the UK more attractive for trade.

“If Britain is to diversify its economy away from European trade after Brexit, business will need increased capacity at the country’s main cargo hub – Heathrow – and the timing of the announcement will strengthen the nation’s attractiveness to potential trading partners,” said James Hookam, deputy chief executive. “MPs now need to ensure that the decision can be ratified in the next 21 days for the good of British business.”

In yesterday’s House of Commons debate, much was made of the advantages for regional airports and trade, with slots set aside for for domestic operations.

Manchester Airports Group, which operates Stansted, Manchester and East Midlands, added its support, and the GMB union noted that the expansion would be good for jobs.

“The benefits of a third runway at Heathrow to GMB members are clear and compelling: 180,000 new jobs, doubling the number of apprenticeships to 10,000 and £187bn in economic benefits. Expansion will deliver these jobs and growth to every nation and region of the UK, from Penzance to Perth; Swansea to Southend.”

While the government, which does not have a majority in parliament, wants to get the decision though, is looks as if those government MPs who have taken a stance against expansion may be allowed to miss the vote.

Famously, foreign secretary Boris Johnson had pledged to lie down in front of the bulldozers to prevent the expansion, but most MPs see that as an incentive for the third runway to be built.

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