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Long-haul flights out of Stansted airport in Essex would aid exports and help the area’s high-growth industries – such as life sciences and technology – to develop, say business leaders.

They maintain that a two-hour journey time to Heathrow airport to catch flights to destinations such as New York, San Francisco or Beijing puts companies off setting up in the area.

International drugs and biotechnology companies with a local presence include GlaxoSmithKline, Amgen and Genzyme. Cambridge and Tech City in east London are hubs for technology companies.

Jeanette Walker, project director at the Cambridge biomedical campus, which houses more than 200 organisations and thousands of staff, said companies wanted links not only to biomedical communities in San Francisco, Boston and New Jersey, but to Seoul, Singapore and China.

“Even though they’re based in Cambridge, these [companies] have global markets or global collaborators,” she said.

The London Stansted Cambridge Consortium, a lobby group backed by local councils and the Corporation of London, said the area contributed 12 per cent of gross value added to the UK economy, a figure that would rise as London developed to the east.

The consortium has asked the Davies commission, which is considering ways to lift Britain’s flight capacity, to support Stansted’s plans to introduce long-haul flights and double capacity to 35m passengers a year. This would create 3,800 jobs by 2020 and double GVA generated to £1.6bn by 2030, it said.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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