Empey repeats Heathrow warning

Lord Empey
Lord Empey

Ulster Unionist peer Lord Empey has once again challenged the Government on the importance of access from Northern Ireland to the main national hub airport at Heathrow.

He was speaking after Willie Walsh, CEO of British Airways owner IAG, threatened to move BA operations to Ireland or Spain as pressure mounts on the government to stop ‘dithering’ over development at the airport.

Referring to a Commons statement on the delayed decision by Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, Lord Empey said: “There is plenty of connectivity between Northern Ireland and the London area but the Government cannot guarantee access from Belfast to Heathrow, our main national hub airport, under existing European law.

“Weeks ago the Chancellor, George Osborne said this was a Government that fixes the roof when the sun is shining. Well, if that is true, then NOW is the time to ensure that we can have guaranteed access to Heathrow even though we currently have a satisfactory service. The first thing that the Irish Government did, when BA’s parent company IAG sought to merge with Aer Lingus, was to have a legal guarantee of access from the Irish regions to Heathrow. Dublin fully gets it but London doesn’t yet see the dangers.

“Without good access to Heathrow, Northern Ireland would be in big economic trouble.”