Business leaders in Heathrow plea

Business chiefs have called for an increase in flights at Heathrow as a short-term solution "to the UK's air capacity crisis".

The leaders, who comprise the London First organisation, also recommended greater noise protection for Heathrow residents, and for Gatwick and Stansted Airports to be freed from economic regulation by the Civil Aviation Authority.%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%
The recommendations came in London First's submission to the Whitehall-appointed Airports Commission which will make its final report to government in the summer of 2015.

London First said that, in the absence of any long-term strategy to build new runways, priority must be given to finding ways of increasing flights through more intensive use of existing runways.

It estimates that Heathrow could support 10% more flights while reducing delays, and that Gatwick and Stansted could attract more airlines and passengers if existing price controls were abolished and the quality and capacity of rail services to both were improved.

London First chief executive Baroness Jo Valentine said: "We face fierce global competition from rivals who are increasing their air links to new and established markets. In the absence of a long-term plan for new runway capacity to meet that threat, we have no choice but to make the assets we have work more intensively.

"Action is needed now. The Commission must recommend how more flights can be introduced where the market wants them. We think the cap on flights at Heathrow can be lifted, and residents protected from noise, and Gatwick and Stansted deregulated to let London's competitive market flourish, extending choice and services.

"Without decisive action and the changes we recommend, the growing economic cost of deferring new runways - already too great - will not be halted."

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Business leaders in Heathrow plea

If you are a victim of a strike, or any other event beyond the airline's control (including ash clouds!), they must offer you a refund (in which case it's up to you to find a way home) or an alternative flight. While you are waiting for the flight you have the right to food and refreshment and accommodation.

If you are on a package holiday, your tour operator is entirely responsible for looking after you until you get back to the UK.

This is more likely to happen due to the financial crisis, but in some situations you are covered. 

If you pay by credit card and it's over £100, you'll get a refund from the card company. 

Your travel insurance may well cover you too, but check before you go.  

Talk to the airline, and if it is temporarily misplaced they should arrange for it to be sent to your accommodation, and you should be either given cash to cover the essentials in the interim.

If it's completely lost you must wait 21 days and then make a claim for compensation. If you are travelling as part of a package you can claim costs from your operator.

If you are travelling within the EU you need an EHIC card, which gives you access to public healthcare. However, this won't necessarily be free, and if you need extra services such as accommodation for a carer, a helicopter home or a delayed flight, you could end up seriously out of pocket.

The only protection that will guarantee you will be looked after without running up a horrendous debt is by having travel insurance - which often covers up to £10 million of costs.

The most common form of theft is pick-pocketing, followed by theft from a car and bag snatching. Meanwhile, 752,000 of those surveyed had items stolen from their hotel room or villa.

If you have anything stolen, your only protection is insurance. You need to tell the local police immediately and get a crime reference for your travel insurer.

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