Leading UK entrepreneurs support Gatwick expansion

29 January 2015

In an open letter to the Airports Commission, 19 of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs and founders of businesses today pledged their support for expanding Gatwick Airport.

Signatories to the letter include Luke Johnson, former Chairman of Pizza Express and Patisserie Valerie, John Stapleton, co-founder of New Covent Garden Soup and Little Dish, Duncan Cheatle, founder of The Supper Club and co-founder of StartUp Britain and Emma Jones MBE, founder of Enterprise Nation.

The letter highlights the importance of maintaining a competitive network of airports in the south east to sustain choice and resilience when accessing overseas markets.  It concludes that only an expanded Gatwick would reinforce the competition that was so long in coming to the UK’s aviation industry, and that expanding Heathrow would restore its monopoly and strangle the benefits of this diversity.

One in five of Gatwick’s passengers now travel on business and two thirds (67%) of business travellers are now choosing to fly low cost on short-haul trips to the UK’s major trading partners in Europe.  Gatwick offers these business travellers value for money, convenience and efficiency. It is increasingly the choice of the cost conscious business traveller.

Speaking on behalf of the signatories, Emma Jones MBE, Enterprise Nation, said:

“Enabling startup businesses to go global is vital to the future of the UK economy. Start-ups do not have vast expense accounts, but rely on low cost fares to reach new markets.  Since the breakup of BAA, Gatwick has excelled in providing more choice, lower fares, better service levels and efficient service - why wouldn’t UK entrepreneurs want more of the same?”

Stewart Wingate, Gatwick’s CEO said:

“Indecision has dogged this debate for decades but more than anything, entrepreneurs and businesses up and down the country need certainty.  Expansion at Heathrow is politically and environmentally toxic, but a new runway at Gatwick could be delivered by 2025 at a fraction of the environmental impact of Heathrow. “

The signatories of today’s letter join a growing list of supporters backing an expanded Gatwick from the business world including nine Chambers of Commerce, three Business Improvement Districts and two Local Enterprise Partnerships.

recent UK-wide survey also showed that 42% of small business owners would back Gatwick’s expansion over that of Heathrow (37%).

The full letter can be read here.


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