UK business lobby group CBI has hinted at the need to expand London Heathrow Airport to increase the UK’s runway capacity and strengthen trade with emerging markets.

The latest CBI report says that a single UK hub with spare capacity to add new routes is essential for the country’s long-term sustainable growth.

The expansion plans must be put before the next parliament with a clear schedule by 2020.

This report comes on the eve of an update from Sir Howard Davies’ Airports Commission, which is expected this week. The commission is expected to deliver its final recommendation on where the airport capacity needs to be added next year.

"It is essential that the Airports Commission delivers a solution that addresses the ticking time bomb of our lack of spare hub capacity."

According to the research by Steer Davies Gleave for the CBI, hub airports serve on average three times as many destinations as point-to-point airports, whilst delivering almost twice as many flights on the routes that are served.

As the UK’s hub capacity at Heathrow is already running full, the country is lagging behind on direct flights to emerging markets.

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The report further adds that the UK’s EU competitors are already establishing connections to new destinations, including Xiamen, China, and Recife, Brazil, in addition to major future markets such as Peru, Indonesia, Taipei and Chile.

CBI deputy director-general Katja Hall said: "First and foremost, UK business wants action. There can be no more excuses. We need to see the Airports Commission deliver a strong case for new capacity and a clear schedule for delivery and politicians to commit to spades in the ground by the end of the next parliament.

"With Heathrow full and the UK slipping behind in the race for new connectivity, it is essential that the Airports Commission delivers a solution that addresses the ticking time bomb of our lack of spare hub capacity."

The CBI has also urged the Airport Commission to provide recommendations to consider additional capacity beyond 2030, in order to prevent another capacity crunch in the future.

Image: CBI hints on Heathrow airport expansion. Photo: courtesy of Heathrow Airports.