An additional daily flight to eight of the major emerging markets could boost trade by £1bn a year, CBI says.
An additional daily flight to eight of the major emerging markets could boost trade by £1bn a year, CBI says.

The UK needs to expand its airport connectivity with major emerging economies to avoid losing billions of pounds in trade, says the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

In a report, the country's leading business group has said that adding just one flight to eight of the fast emerging economies which include China, Russia and Brazil could boost Britain's trade by about £1bn ($1.5bn,€1.15) a year.

"Every day we delay expanding our connections, we risk falling further behind our competitors," CBI Chief Policy Director Katja Hall said in a release.

"Firms in high-growth economies are not waiting for us to make a decision before taking their business to countries with much better flight links".

The UK airports including London's Heathrow has not been able to keep up with their European counterparts in starting direct connections, the group said. In the last 20 years, Heathrow has managed to expand only 53 percent, in contrast to over 80 percent in airports such as Frankfurt and Paris Charles De Gaulle.

The CBI has called on the interim report of the International Airports Commission, led by Sir Howard Davies, to boost the industry by taking action on hub capacity and investment in connectivity to airports. The interim report is expected later this year and the final report in 2015.

"The Davies Commission must be bold and set out a clear path forward," said CBI Director for Business Environment policy, Rhian Kelly.

"It needs to provide all of our airports with a sustainable licence to grow, with the ability to link exporters with new opportunities".

Prime Minister David Cameron's coalition government had cancelled a plan to build a third runway in Heathrow after taking office in 2010, relenting to objections from liberals and green activists.

The government is considering ways to boost the country's airport capacity, but is not expected to come up with any concrete plans until the elections in 2015. Apart from the third runway, options include a new airport in the Thames estuary or further developing Gatwick or Stansted airports.