England

South East 'losing out' to Amsterdam airport, warns boss

Jos Nijuis
Image caption Jos Nijuis, who is the chief executive of Schiphol Airport, said it had taken business away from the South East

The boss of Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport has said people are using his airport rather than those in the South East because it has greater capacity.

Chief executive Jos Nijuis made the comments at a gathering of airport bosses at Heathrow.

Proposals to increase capacity in the South East include a third runway at Heathrow, increased use of Gatwick and a new airport in the Thames Estuary.

A report into the UK's aviation capacity is not due until 2015.

Third runway

Mr Nijuis said Schiphol had six runways, 413,000 flights and 51 million passengers a year, and had taken business away from the South East.

"We have already eight connections to the greater China area, where Heathrow only has three," he said.

"So if you want to be connected with China, fly out of Amsterdam."

Proposals for a third runway at Heathrow have the support of several industry figures, including Sir Richard Branson.

However, it has been politically unpopular, with Mayor of London Boris Johnson backing a new airport being built in the Thames Estuary.

A Heathrow spokeswoman said: "This shows how important the international competition for transfer passengers is - and how the UK is missing out.

"It's these transfer passengers which make new trade routes to emerging economies viable, bringing jobs and economic growth to the host country.

"But with Heathrow full, the UK's only hub airport can't accommodate these new routes.

"Schiphol's comments show that it is our international rivals which benefit, not other airports in the UK."

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