Empey calls for action over Heathrow routes

Unionist peer Reg Empey, has called for support from the business and tourism sectors, warning of a ‘nightmare’ threat to Heathrow routes to Northern Ireland.

Speaking as he introduced a Private Members Bill to Parliament to protect landing slots at Heathrow for UK regions, he said there was a danger routes from cities such as Glasgow, Belfast and Newcastle could be lost as Heathrow struggled to maintain international links without a third runway.

“What use is there in talking about a northern powerhouse if cities such as Leeds/Bradford and Newcastle lose their direct connections to the national hub airport at Heathrow?,” said Lord Empey who served as Enterprise Minister from 1998-02.

“We depend even more heavily on this connection because we have no rail or road alternative to the mainland.

“The simple fact is that US or other business people are not going to travel from abroad to come to Northern Ireland if they have to spend hours in very complicated travelling arrangements around London to get to secondary airports.”

Adding that he had petitioned Theresa Villiers, Danny Kennedy MLA and the Regional Development Committee at Stormont, he said: “I hope the business and tourism communities will also support my Bill so we can protect our critical air routes to Heathrow.”