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EDITIONS
Monday, 14 January, 2002, 08:34 GMT
UK air industry looks to expand
Heathrow airport
A coalition of business groups, airlines and trade unions is launching a campaign to boost air capacity in the UK.

Without such an expansion, the alliance claims jobs, tourism, and the economy will all suffer.

The group - called the 'Freedom to Fly' coalition - wants the government to include plans for a big rise in airport capacity in its aviation White Paper, which is due to be published later this year.

Speaking to the BBC, Digby Jones, director general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said the he did not want to see the air industry heading for the same problems which have been seen in Britain's railways.

"We don't want the airline industry and the whole aviation industry in Britain to go the same way," he told BBC Breakfast News.

"We've got world class global champion operators, what we need is an infrastructure that will support that... to make sure the UK maintains its globally competitive position."

Environmental concerns

In November last year, London's Heathrow Airport was been given the go-ahead to build a fifth terminal.

While the move was welcomed by business, the decision angered environment groups and local people.

And John Stewart, chairman of anti-noise campaigners HACAN ClearSkies said the new coalition was nothing but a "propaganda organisation for the aviation industry masquerading behind concern for the rights of ordinary citizens."

"What this new lobby group fails to address is the effect that an expansion of aviation will have on the people living under the flight paths to airports and the damage aviation is doing to our wider environment," he said.

"Our members are more concerned about the freedom to sleep than the freedom to fly.

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