Date published: 26th September 2016

In a joint editorial for The Times, Birmingham Airport's CEO Paul Kehoe and Gatwick's CEO Stewart Wingate set out why, after Brexit, it is so important for Gatwick expansion to get the green light to deliver balanced regional growth for Britain in comparison to Heathrow which would deter airlines from expanding services at Birmingham, Belfast, Edinburgh and elsewhere. 

The debate over much needed airport capacity has gone on for too long. The idea of expansion at Heathrow has been in a holding pattern for decades and can never come in to land. Even if it is chosen, it will not be delivered. 

So today Gatwick is joined by Birmingham in asking Theresa May to be bold and make a decision on airport expansion in the next few weeks that will support balanced growth for Britain as a whole for the long term. We do so because the report of the Airports Commission is already drastically out of date. Its original remit was largely focused on expansion in the southeast. Much has changed since then. 

After Brexit, it is even more important that the outcome best reflects the long-term economic interests of the home nations and regions in particular. And we are writing jointly to the Prime Minister to say that this will best be achieved by authorising expansion at Gatwick now while setting in train long-term planning procedures for this to be followed by expansion at Birmingham International. 

We believe that this programme would benefit the nation as a whole. It would chart a course for regional airport expansion rather than simply recreating a monopoly in London that would blunt regional growth. A third runway at Heathrow would deter airlines from expanding services at Birmingham, Belfast, Edinburgh and elsewhere. 

British business is crying out for certainty and Heathrow cannot provide that. Last week an all-party parliamentary group on Heathrow set out 16 serious risks that could stop or delay expansion. They include legal challenges over breaches to EU and UK laws on air quality and excessive noise that could prevent consent for the runway. 

The Airports Commission report was fair in conceding that Gatwick will deliver the same number of routes and the same economic benefit for the nation as Heathrow. We contend that it will do so at a much lower environmental and financial cost and with much less risk. 

HS2 will be a game changer for the West Midlands. It will in time help make Birmingham the UK's most accessible airport. It is therefore the most appropriate place for future expansion outside the South East. That means taking a decision now that does not close down that option in the medium term. 

Birmingham and Gatwick have common objectives, but our proposal is designed to help the country. We are asking Mrs May to adopt this game-changing solution and go for nationwide growth.