Richard Branson's government aviation capacity plea

  • 18 March 2012
  • From the section England
  • comments
Media captionSir Richard is not opposed to an estuary airport in Kent but says capacity needs to be increased in the interim or the South East would lose out

The government is currently holding a consultation on the future of aviation policy. However, all three main political parties have ruled out the expansion of Heathrow by building a third runway.

Now Sir Richard Branson - a man who knows a bit about aviation - has added his voice to the growing chorus of business leaders calling for the government to act to tackle the lack of aviation capacity.

He doesn't pull his punches saying the government's aviation policy is a mess.

Sir Richard says the one thing holding back economic growth in the country was that decision by the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Labour to rule out a third runway at Heathrow.

He says because of that, his company, Virgin Atlantic, has had to expand abroad in the Australian and US markets instead.

Sir Richard adds he would be willing to put his money where his mouth is and invest £5bn to create thousands of jobs if Heathrow were to get the go-ahead for expansion.

He says he's speaking out because he thinks the politicians have ruled out a third runway at Heathrow for political reasons.

But he says sometimes brave people change their minds and it's clear that's what he thinks the government should do now.

The Department for Transport has said that it will continue to explore all options for maintaining the UK's aviation hub status with the exception of a third runway at Heathrow.

The aviation review is due to be published at the end of March.