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IATA's CEO Tony Tyler has called on European governments to stop bleeding the airline industry with taxes that are not spent on infrastructure.

Now Richard Branson says the UK will not only need more tarmac at Heathrow and Gatwick but also a completely new four-runway airport in 20 years.

While British politicians continue to obfuscate, the cynic might conclude the foreign owners of both airports view their freight and passenger customers merely as cash-flow for their ROI. It would explain their PR campaign against the Mayor of London's proposals that essentially diminish the long-term value of their investments.

Selling off legacy public infrastructure to foreign ownership in the name of efficiency only works if the resultant ROI is recycled into improving the asset for all concerned.

For politicians to approve more runways at Heathrow or Gatwick while ignoring the long-term social and economic benefits of a new airport is just pandering to incumbent investors.

But as Mark Twain said: "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."

- author Simon Keeble is the editor of Freightweek

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