A MAJORITY of London businesses (54%) would prefer Heathrow to be expanded, compared with 30% backing Gatwick.

The finding is part of a survey for the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry on a number of key transport issues facing the capital.

The ‘Planes and Trains’ poll of more than 500 business leaders also showed that 31% see more efficient runway operation at Heathrow as most beneficial for their firms in the short and medium term.

Alternatively, 17% see extended runway operating hours at Heathrow (including early morning arrivals) as most beneficial.

Some 19% think improved railway access into Gatwick would be most valuable to their firms.

‘Easy access via public transport’ was the most important factor determining the choice of airport for business leaders polled, with 61% selecting this as very important, followed by ‘quick processing times’ (58%) and then ‘affordable flight costs’ (56%).

While a majority of London business leaders (55%) say they support plans for High Speed 2 (HS2), interestingly, of those opposed to HS2, a majority (54%) say they would be more likely to support the project if plans included a direct link to Heathrow.

Asked about the role of infrastructure projects for coping with London’s projected population increase, 44% of London businesses believe Crossrail Two will be very important.

A majority (57%) support Transport for London’s Tube modernisation plans to close ticket offices in order to help deliver 24-hour Tube services and increase investment.

Chief Executive of LCCI Colin Stanbridge said: “Government and the Airports Commission will note London businesses have clear preferences for Heathrow-focused solutions to the airport capacity issue.

“London Chamber believes that practical future proofing of the UK economy should see new runways built at both Heathrow and Gatwick, in a staggered approach.

“Short-term measures like more early morning arrivals can temporarily boost capacity.

“However, we need to construct new airport infrastructure to prepare London for challenges ahead. We expect politicians to take a long-term view and anticipate the future demands on the UK.

“It’s common-sense to integrate our island economy’s key transport networks. As the general election approaches we await to see what the political parties’ views are on this matter.”