A third runway at Heathrow has been endorsed by the new transport minister, Lord Callanan.
The omission from the Queen’s Speech of any mention of the airport had led to speculation that enthusiasm for expansion has waned in Downing Street and the Department for Transport.
On Monday, the chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission, Lord Adonis, warned that a hard Brexit would be a “calamity” for the UK and jeopardise the expansion at Heathrow.
Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, has long been an opponent of a third runway at Britain’s busiest airport – vowing to fight expansion “to the very last ditch”.
But speaking at the Abta Travel Matters conference in London, Lord Callanan said: “The reason it was not included in the Queen’s Speech is very simple: it does not require legislation. Heathrow is proceeding and we are committed to it.”
He said the UK was losing out to foreign airports, saying: “Unless we get this runway built that slide will continue.”
The minister said expansion would lead to “greater passenger choice and lower fares”, and that 14 new domestic links would be launched once the runway is built. “We’ll make sure the airport delivers,” he said.
It is almost two years since the Davies Commission unanimously recommended expansion at Heathrow as the best solution to the aviation capacity crunch in South East England. Since then, the Department for Transport has launched a further consultation.
Lord Callanan did not give any indication of the timescale, saying only: “We’ll set out the next steps as soon as possible.”