11 NOVEMBER 2013
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When the Prime Minister cancelled Heathrow’s third runway on coming to power in 2010 the air transport industry was distressed. London desperately needed more runway capacity and a solution seemed a long way off.
The appointment of the Airport Commission in September 2012 was at least a step forward but two vital years had been wasted.
However the Commission does not report until sometime after May 2015, and the implications of what it has to say will be controversial.
Sir Howard Davies, who chairs the Commission, will offer an interim report in December with some short-term remedies, but no new runway.
In public Sir Howard has made it clear. The South East needs at least one new runway.
So why can’t the forthcoming statement say just that and let us move forward?
What is he going to achieve by waiting until 2015? Political expediency. The Prime Minister should state that two and a half years ago he was right to stop the then Heathrow three, but he was wrong in delaying any move forward.
It is hypocritical. He said those who were against HS2 were threatening the UK economy and inferred a lack of patriotism. The new Tilbury port owned by Dubai has just opened with full Government support to maintain UK global trade connectivity. Yet shipping is more polluting globally than aviation!
Neither HS2 nor Tilbury would provide the economic gain for the whole of the UK including the regions that a new runway at Heathrow or use of Northolt would offer.
At World Travel Market last week (see ON TOUR) Heathrow boss Colin Matthews claimed that no city in the world has two hub airports, conveniently forgetting New York.
Forget about the Mayor’s grandiose scheme in the Thames Estuary. Great in theory but hopeless in practice. The consequences of closing Heathrow are not even worth thinking about. It would make the shutting of a naval dockyard seem like a pinprick.
Alternative ‘greenfield’ sites just do not work.
A third runway is needed at Heathrow, a second for Gatwick (a must in BTN’s opinion), and at some time in the future doubling up at Stansted.
Every carrier wants to fly into Heathrow in spite of its limitations. They want that access because the public, that is the customer, wants that airport. Davies and his committee of non-commercial, non-aviation, academics must make a judgement on behalf of the nation. Will they recommend another flight path over London?
They can make up their mind next week, let alone December. Waiting until 2015 is just plain nonsense.
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