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Branson: "Build new Gatwick runway now"

Virgin Atlantic Chairman Sir Richard Branson has become the first major player in the aviation industry to back plans for a second runway at Gatwick.

The airport announced a week ago it was pressing ahead with the controversial plan.

Some people say it will double the number of flights and noise.

Others say it will create jobs and boost the local economy.

In an exclusive interview with Meridian he says he also wants two extra Heathrow runways.

The tycoon from Oxford has been in Mumbai where he's been launching a route from Heathrow and promoting trade links between the UK and India.

He says the Government should stop dithering and take urgent decisions on expansion in the south.

A legal agreement means a new Gatwick runway could not be built before 2019.

Sir Richard spoke to Transport Correspondent Mike Pearse.

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Virgin to compete with BA on domestic flights

Flights between Heathrow and the North West will begin next spring using leased aircraft, Mr Ridgway said. Mr Ridgway insisted that air travel was a "different market" from rail services between Manchester and London.

"Virgin Atlantic has obviously provided great competition over the years internationally on the long-haul routes and this is about redressing that as part of the process of making sure that BA doesn't become a monopolist on all the routes bmi used to fly."

– Steve Ridgway, Chief Executive Virgin Atlantic Airways

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