The Co-operative Travel has welcomed the opposition to Heathrow’s third runway, which was voiced yesterday by business leaders in an open letter to The Times.

The high-level leaders from a range of key UK industries claim alternatives to the third runway have not been adequately explored and have called on the government to rethink its decision and address the real questions facing the future of aviation.

Last year, The Co-operative Travel was explicit in its condemnation of the planned expansion. In a statement setting out its ethical strategy on the environment, it said a third runway at Heathrow and other new runway proposals conflict with the UK’s emissions reduction targets and that moderate growth in the aviation industry would be best accommodated at existing UK regional airports.

Commenting on the decision of the 13 businessmen to go public in their protest, The Co-operative Travel managing director Mike Greenacre said: “We announced our opposition to the third runway primarily on environmental grounds as part of the launch of our ethical strategy in July 2008. But it is gratifying to see big organisations opposing the runway purely on business grounds.

“With no business case for the third runway, alongside opposition on environmental grounds, we cannot see how this can move forward under current proposals. We urgently ask the government to reconsider its position on Heathrow so that alternatives can be properly explored quickly and efficiently.”