My plan is simple. It can be actioned immediately (not in 20 years after countless enquiries and consultations). It needn't cost anything. And at a stroke it instantly starts boosting our sorely needed export drive.
Why is this so urgent? Because the people we want to export to can't get here by direct flights (but they can get to most of our competitors in Frankfurt, Paris, Amsterdam and New York). And we can't quickly and cheaply get to them.
Do you remember the brilliant British Airways ad where a British businessman is talking by phone to a prospect in New York who is flicking through a document and making positive noises. The call ends and the Brit excitedly announces to the team clustered around him "he liked the presentation document!". The next shot is of him binning it and warmly greeting another salesman who had bothered flying over to him with the words "Great to see you, now let's talk business". If you can find this ad on YouTube or elsewhere, please let me know.
This video is less dramatic, but gets the same point across:
My idea is simple. Nationalise Heathrow and maybe Gatwick too, so that the government, advised by UK Trade and Investment, can decide how slots are prioritised for export potential. We're simply going to have to go to the likes of Stansted, Luton, City, Southampton, Bristol etc for our holidays and other trips where money is more likely to be leaving the UK.
In other words, stop wasting our London capacity on flights to places that don't help our balance of trade. Stop letting the airlines decide where they want to fly to and from based on what makes them the most money, and make that decision on behalf of British business. You can always compensate the airlines if you wish.
And perhaps with the money you save on not having to build another runway or airport (and the £100m we're giving Sir Howard Davies for an enquiry) you can offer free flights to exporting Brits.