London airport

I have recently co signed a letter by several Conservative MPs to the Transport Secretary. We have asked him to speed up consideration of airport capacity in London. We think the Uk needs to decide quickly where its main hub airport will be in decades ahead, and start investing in the extra capacity needed.

We point out that it may not help at the next election to be unsure about where a major airport is going to be sited. Far from making it easier to attract votes around London, it could leave many places blighted by the prospect of a major new airport next to them. It also leaves many people with jobs in aviation and at Heathrow unsure of their positions.

Howard Davies could speed up consideration and reach a conclusion this year if needed. The main arguments and plans for expanding Heathrow, for building an estuary airport from scratch, or expanding one or more of the existing airports for London beyond Heathrow are well known. It requires a decision.

I would rule out immediately the idea of building a new hub airport from scratch anywhere west of London. I cannot see the advantage of changing sites from the present west of London location to another around twenty or thirty miles away, further out of the capital it is serving. I can see many political and economic disadvantages, and plenty of people who would oppose such a move. The cost would be huge, requiring a new set of train, underground and road links into the centre of London.

Nor do I see much advantage of trying to shift the main hub airport from Heathrow to an expanded Gatwick or Stanstead. It is true there is more land available at those locations than within the current perimeter of Heathrow. It would be a breach of past promises to place more runways at those places. They are further out of London, have poorer road links than Heathrow, and no tube links.

To me the choice is between expanding Heathrow or building a new Eastuary airport. From the days of Maplin onwards I have been a fan of a new airport with a large seaport to the east of London. Now I fear the success of Heathrow and the magnitude of the investment already made there makes it a difficult prospect. The transition from Heathrow to Estuary could be drawn out, expensive and damaging to the UK’s commercial inetrests. The airlines will be reluctant to go there at first. Trying to run two large airports near London will split service provision and make interlining difficult.

I conclude we need to get on with developing Heathrow. It may need to expand to the west over the M25, and may need more fast transit sytems between terminals and into London to make it user friendly on its already spread site. The sooner we have more capacity the better. Local residents rightly want an effective night ban on movements, and want less noisy aircraft taking off and landing in ways which cut the noise footprint.


  1. lifelogic
    February 23, 2013

    First the new short runway at Heathrow, then a HS train shuttle to Gatwick (15 mins) round the M25 and a new runway there too. Five runways effectively one decent hub airport. Far cheaper and quicker than any schemes in the Thames and closer to the demand and existing staff and air support companies. The train nuts in government even get a little HS train to play with. Cancel the mad HS2 to pay for it all. Mind you unlike HS2 it will fund itself if done well. Lots of sensible synergy in linking them.

    Anyway does the government not believe the sea (and the Thames estuary) are going to rise by 50 metres or something similar – unless we litter the country with huge expensive and occasionally rotating crosses – or have they changed the soothsayers recently to replace Chris Huhne? Things like:- the Thames barrier will be under meters of water will have to close 700 times a day and all that silly guff they were pushing.

    Not much sign of change in Department of Energy & Climate Change alas. What a dam stupid name for a department, more of A New Religion, the Indoctrination of, Department – (for the purpose of new taxes and pointless jobs the justification of).

    1. lifelogic
      February 23, 2013


      George Osborne under pressure as Britain loses AAA rating for first time
      Chancellor vows to stick to course after downgrade by Moody’s, which blamed subdued growth and rising debt burden.

      Indeed subdued growth and rising debt burden due to an idiotic failure to cut government waste, a lack of lower tax, smaller state vision, expensive religious energy, gift loans to the PIGIS, absurd regulations and Labour in two years time.

      Well done Cameron and Osborne – tax, borrow, break all your promises and endless waste to a man. Time to go soon, Labour will be worse but not very much so.

      1. Pleb
        February 23, 2013

        Unfortunately I must agree. I find it hard to understand how the policies could be so bad considering the number of advisors.

        1. uanime5
          February 24, 2013

          Maybe he hired advisors who’s purpose is to tell him why he’s right, that actually give him useful information.

    2. Bob
      February 23, 2013

      “Anyway does the government not believe the sea (and the Thames estuary) are going to rise by 50 metres or something similar “

      No, they don’t believe that, it’s just a good cover story for fleecing us.

  2. Mike Stallard
    February 23, 2013

    This sums up the whole problem with government. In our market place we have a similar problem: parking or no parking?
    Whichever “side” wins will not be grateful: whichever side loses will be furious!
    So much safer to shelve the whole thing…….

  3. Single Acts
    February 23, 2013

    Well done. In losing Triple A, you’ve now matched 1978 Denis Healey (sic) for competence.

    Well done.

    1. acorn
      February 23, 2013

      I think that leaves Germany as the only big EU nation with AAA rating. Just watch the FX on the Pound Sterling that’s the worry if there is a capital flyer to a stronger currency.

      Otherwise, some pension funds may not be allowed to hold less than AAA debt and sell out. Remember we are a sovereign currency nation. We can pay any bill denominated in Pounds Sterling; we can’t go broke in our own currency. We can import inflation with a weakening Pound; and create domestic inflation if all those pounds get spent and chase up prices on reducing output from our own factories.

      If we reach that point and there is still 7+ % unemployment; forget about building more runways, just buy a oneway ticket at the terminal building.

      ” … In contrast to all of this, Britain has generally managed the transition alone. Its own way of dismantling the postwar social contract was to isolate decision-making power from the authority of the national legislature. Politicians gave up powers to independent bodies, from the multiple national regulatory agencies to the Central Bank and the Office of Budgetary Responsibility. Decision-making was located outside of politics, but not outside of the UK as such.” (HT: The Current Moment)

      1. uanime5
        February 24, 2013

        Germany lost their AAA rating a while ago, even though their economy is growing. I’d say Germany, like most of Europe, was downgraded because of the euro problems rather than economic problems specific to Germany.

    2. lifelogic
      February 23, 2013

      He is doing quite well in trying to get taxes rates up to Healey’s 83% income tax + 15% investment income surcharge too was it? and with a similar effect on tax receipts. Listening to Healey’s Desert Island Discs podcast it is very clear he had still learned nothing from his experience nor from Mrs Thatchers. Then neither has Osborne or Cameron it seems. Double first in Greats at Oxford (Healey) and a second in Modern History, Oxford (Osborne), yet not an ounce of common sense between them it seems.

      May we just have a Chancellor of the Exchequer who can do a few sums and has some understanding of human nature (and do not believe in the magic government money tree) please.

      I do not know about lending to the IMF surely Osborne needs to be borrowing from them at this rate not lending.

      1. zorro
        February 23, 2013

        Healey was a grammar school boy who got a double First and fought for his country, unlike Osborne…..


  4. Steve Cox
    February 23, 2013

    I fully agree with you John. One additional point, though, is that Heathrow is not just London’s airport, it sis actually the main scheduled international flight airport for South Wales too. Cardiff airport has very few scheduled flights and mainly struggles along on holiday charters. The regional population of around 2 million is too small and Wales is now the poorest part of the UK (thank you for that, Welsh Assembly) so it is unlikely that airlines would wish to expand their scheduled flights from Cardiff significantly. Other than the London airports, the three main alternatives for these 2 million people are Bristol, Birmingham and Manchester, but compared with the hourly Swansea to Paddington inter city 125 service the public transport links to these other possibilities are rather poor. Certainly, Bristol airport is much closer than Heathrow, but it’s located on the wrong side of Bristol for people travelling from South Wales, unless you wish to take your car. Ditto for Birmingham, which involves a change of train at New Street, while the train services to Manchester are slow and cramped. Given Britain’s poor record of providing fast and reliable public transport links the relocation of the main hub from Heathrow to the east of London would be a disaster for Welsh people wishing to fly further afield than Tenerife or the Costas. The current service by train isn;t perfect as there is no rail link from Reading to Heathrow and we are forced to waste and hour (and £17) on the RailAir bus link, but compared with the additional tiem and cost of getting to Paddington, and then crossing central London to wherever the rail link to Boris Island would start, it’s a model of efficiency.

    By the way, this also relates to yesterday’s topic on London. Your view today of Heathrow as an airport only of concern for Londoners (or at least those living in its hinterland) is one reason why Londoner’s persistent hobby of navel gazing and failing to consider the 40 or 50 million people who do not live there (depending on your definitions) tends to make many people feel some antipathy towards the capital and its inhabitants.

    My point here is that there are arguments additional to those you have made for retaining and expanding Heathrow, and those of us from places like South Wales would be most grateful if you and your colleagues didn’t forget us in your deliberations and when presenting your case.

    Reply Yes of course. I thought I said the UK’s one hub airport, as well as London’s airport.

  5. Martin
    February 23, 2013

    Those who support Boris Island should remember what Mirabel did for Montreal. A grandiose new airport miles from town at a site that had few nimbys and nothing much else going for it.

    I’d permit development at Gatwick & Stansted as well as Heathrow. As ownership has finally been split up why not let the markets and competition work?

    1. stred
      February 23, 2013

      Personally, I have found that travelling to Heathrow is a nightmare. The tube was unreliable as usual and we nearly missed the plane last time. The roads are congested and the whole site is confusing, with expensive parking. A drive right around the M25 is necessary from the east. The express train is very expensive and tube connections unpleasant, with many cancellations. Last time it took longer to cross London than to cross the Atlantic.

      On the other hand, Stansted is reached in half an hour by car and has good train connections to Kings Cross and on to Eurostar and the East Coast line. It would be much less expensive and easier to add another module of the rectangular Foster building and improve the rail line with longer or double deck trains. The Nimbys would have to be bribed of course, but there are fewer of them.

      1. John Maynard
        February 23, 2013

        The problem is that for politicians, someone else picks up the travel bills, and as VIPs, they are cocooned from the (unpleasant aspects-ed) that is Heathrow. They are also subject to the lobbying (words left out) from coves like Willie Walsh.
        For the everyday business person or private traveller (especially those travelling from distant parts of the UK), Heathrow is a horror to be avoided if at all possible.
        The Footsie100 might back Heathrow, but when are the hundreds of thousands of other businesses allowed an opinion ?

        John is basically backing more piecemeal development sprawl, as Heathrow develops ever more sheds, car-parks, dependent businesses etc. in one of the most valuable real-estate areas, and one of the most congested traffic areas in the UK. It would be a rerun of the 1960s Longbridge or one of those sprawling, hopelessly uncompetitive 1960s steel works.

        IMHO, government just needs to license an estuary airport and stand back. If there is finance, backing and interest, it will be built.
        Then we can see what happens as a sleek, new model competes with Walsh and his Spanish cronies at Heathrow.

        Why does a new airport project have to be micro-managed by a bunch
        of politicians and bureaucrats, endlessly agonising over the detail ?
        Heathrow is a private concern, so should be a new airport.

        Reply Large projects do need planning, and do require large inputs from a state which insists on running the roads and railways to get to them.

      2. zorro
        February 23, 2013

        Gatwick also has a quick though expensive connection to Victoria. Businessmen often prefer to avoid Heathrow if at all possible…..


    2. wab
      February 24, 2013

      “As ownership has finally been split up why not let the markets and competition work?”

      Yes, whatever happened to the free market that the Tories allegedly believe in? There was some silly promise made to the people near Gatwick not to add runways. But that is not the case for Stansted. Stansted also has the fewest people (in comparison with Heathrow and Gatwick) who would suffer from expanding the airport.

      If both Stansted and Heathrow want to add capacity then why should that not be allowed? (And Luton, as well.) Unlike HS2, these airports would not be a drain on the nation’s finances. Improving the M11 and the Stansted Express would be a lot cheaper than building a vast new airport right next to a bird reserve.

      Obviously if Stansted were allowed to expand then a joined up government would also have a sensible plan for expanding economic development in the M11 corridor, between Stratford and Cambridge. Unfortunately there is no joined up thinking in government. (Tories, Lib Dems, Labour, they are all the same, Oxford humanities graduates, or at best Cambridge humanities graduates.)

  6. JimF
    February 23, 2013

    Nice post, wrong day.

    How about discussing the routes which your Party in Government has taken to lose Britain’s AAA credit rating, and compare it with the route long proposed by most of your correspondents here and by UKIP. Slash welfare spending, cut taxes, encourage private sector growth in place of public sector growth and unshackle us from EU restrictive regulation.

    1. uanime5
      February 23, 2013

      Reducing welfare won’t fix the economy, all it will do is make the poor more desperate and make them more likely to turn to crime.

      The private sector isn’t growing because there’s little to no demand. There’s low demand because of falling wages and high unemployment levels. So reducing the public sector will make the problem worse, not better.

      1. Edward
        February 24, 2013

        And your plan to create demand is to tax us more leaving us with less disposable income and to increase State spending by even more borrowing and printing.
        What can possibly go wrong.

    2. Mark
      February 24, 2013

      It might be more accurate to consider the efforts of the present government as akin to sticking a finger in a crumbling dyke to prevent a flood that was caused by the previous government.

  7. Alan Wheatley
    February 23, 2013

    Much of the traffic passing through Heathrow does not go to London.

    So how about increasing UK hub capacity by building a hub airport South of Glasgow? This has the advantage of being on the great circle route to North America, and so is well placed to link to short haul flights in the UK and Europe. It will also have excellent high-speed rail links, according to government plans.

    1. Mark
      February 23, 2013

      There already is Prestwick. Despite the excellent runway, and other advantages over Abbotsinch it has lost out to the latter’s proximity to the city.

    2. uanime5
      February 23, 2013

      The problem with improving Scottish airports is that they may not be part of the UK after 2014.

      1. Alan Wheatley
        February 26, 2013

        Central government interest in Scottish airports will encourage Scotts to stay in the UK.

  8. Old Albion
    February 23, 2013

    But John! If we build a new airport we will attract more aeroplanes. If we attract more aeroplanes we will create more carbon. If we create more carbon. We will all die because of soaring temperatures (just like today)
    O/K enough of that……………………..
    Have you lot in Westminster ever been to Lydd in Kent? It’s a barren and desolate place, but it does have an airport. Nothing else, just an airport. Oh! and some flooded quarries.
    Have you ever considered building a proper airport there? It would inconvenience hardly anyone. Create British jobs for worldwide workers (TM Gordon Brown) In fact it would improve the place immensly.
    P.S. The idea of placing an airport in the Thames estuary is so stupid i’m surprised any politician (even Boris) ever publicly supports such an idiotic idea.
    P.P.S Before the ‘your a nimby’ brigade jump on this. I live in central Kent and would be equally affected by an airport in either location.
    P.P.P.S (is there such a thing?) Your correspondent from South Wales may like to address his concerns to the Welsh Assembly. An option denied to the English. We get (dis)UK Gov. decisions.

    1. uanime5
      February 23, 2013

      More aeroplanes will only be attracted if there are more people flying to the UK. Also more airports may reduce the amount of CO2 created if planes are able to land more quickly, rather than having to remain in a holding pattern until there’s a space.

  9. A different Simon
    February 23, 2013

    I wonder whether people who are proposing an increase in London airport capacity are living in another world or visionaries who can see this spare capacity will eventually be needed .

    Capacity for business has already increased by more than 1 extra runway due to the demise of the foreign holiday .

    Hasn’t the news filtered through to Westminster that most Britons can no longer afford 1 week away in the UK in anything more than a tent if they are lucky let alone somewhere sunny ? Has the OBR not told you yet ?

    (and that is without saving a penny for pensions which most don’t do) .

    Or perhaps Saga can confirm that the only people able to take seniors holidays with them in 15 years time will be retired public servants .

    Is business demand really expected to offset the massive reduction in leisure air travel and then some or is it to support and ever increasing flow of migrant workers ?

    Reply Yes, there is substantial potential extra demand, and we are currently losing business to Amsterdam and Paris.

    1. Nicol Sinclair
      February 23, 2013

      Reply to reply: Please don’t forget Frankfurt to which LHR has lost millions as a European hub even if the former’s baggage handling leaves more to be desired than LHR. 🙁 I currently never transit through LHR if I can possibly avoid it. Schipol (AMS) is better. But. Dubai- Glasgow direct takes the biscuit (twice daily now, I believe)- I am invariably Glasgow headed… Twice daily Emirates DXB-GLA has to say something to the politicos? Perhaps not, the route is outside the Westminster bubble… How’s the daily commute from Wokingham-Waterloo?

  10. a-tracy
    February 23, 2013

    I always feel annoyed if I have to travel from Manchester to London in order to travel abroad, it’s such a waste. Isn’t it an unintended consequence that if you build all the main transport hubs in and around London that’s where all the business/commerce is going to centralise and make it harder for the other regions to get a fair share?

  11. Neil Craig
    February 23, 2013

    If we get out of recession we will automatically return to the situation of 10% annual growth of air traffic. In which case both expanding Heathrow and an estuary airport make sense.

    Of course not building either would be one of the many things our government are doi9ng to prevent the end of recession.

  12. behindthefrogs
    February 23, 2013

    The advantage of expanding Gatwick is that it is possible to travel there from your constituency by public transport which can’t be done to Heathrow. Surely you should be representing your constituents on this issue and pushing for an expansion of Gatwick together with speeding up the Reading Gatwick rail link.

  13. Mark
    February 23, 2013

    There is little point in expanding airport capacity if we have governments that are determined to tax air travel to disadvantage the UK against competing hubs at AMS and CDG. Aircraft movements are declining, and passenger numbers little more than static.

  14. Iain Moore
    February 23, 2013

    Another lying representative of the British political establishment.

    At every point in Heathrow’s expansion the people living around the airport have been lied to, worse the British political establishment lied through their teeth to the Planning Inspector who gave the go ahead for T4 and T5 on undertakings from the Airport, BA, and politicians which they promptly reneged on.

    First of all John just a mere detail, but how are you going to get around the pollution that Heathrow generates? The area around Heathrow already falls below international standards, in fact I believe there has been pollution warnings for the London area this week. Perhaps you are going to do as the political class have done on the noise pollution of Heathrow, say to the wider public you are REALLY caring about the local people with the night curfew, then sneak in a night flying quota that allows Heathrow to operate at full bore from 4am giving people at most 5 hours sleep a night. Perhaps you think the people living around Heathrow are a lower breed of people who only need 5 hours kip and do really well on breathing polluted air?

    John the problem we have with Heathrow is that it is a private company that uses the state to deprive people of their property rights.

    Why are you and the State getting involved with Heathrow’s expansion? It shouldn’t be for the State to seek to enrich Heathrow’s investors at the expense of the people.

    If you believe that Heathrow is important national infrastructure, where people should be expected to give up their living environment for the national good, then renationalise the bloody airport. But DON”T peddle this lie of it being a private enterprise, who then relies on the State to annex peoples living environment for nothing.

    If you believe in private enterprise, and property rights, then get the hell out of the way. Tell Heathrow if it wants to build another runway tell them to come to financial terms with the people who they are going to inconvenience with their business activity. Then when the true cost of Heathrow’s business activity will be realised , if the travelling public are prepared to pay the price, and whether , like of a lot of heavy industry that used to be in London, that perhaps operating in the suburbs of London isn’t the best place, and so move out.

    If you believe in markets, then stop interfering in the market that impacts on Heathrow’s operation, stop subsidising Heathrow’s pollution be denying local peoples property rights.

    Reply The state makes planning decisions on these major national infrastructure projects for the wider society, andhas to do so.

    1. Iain Moore
      February 25, 2013

      So John , just like the Banks, you are privatising the profits while socialising the costs .

      Do you believe in property rights?

      If someone has bought a home, why should they be deprived of the enjoyment of their asset by the state giving away their living environment to a private company to exploit ? What is the good of a home when the bedrooms are no longer suitable for sleeping in and the garden is turned into an underpass of an aerial motorway?

      If you believe in property rights then you and the state should stop interfering in the market, and force Heathrow to come to financial terms with the people they are going to inconvenience , then we would see if the Heathrow business model can pay its way, or can only function by having the state steal peoples assets on their behalf.

  15. uanime5
    February 23, 2013

    Rather than creating a main hub airport if may be better to improve other airports so that passengers can arrive nearer where they live, rather than landing in Heathrow and have to take an internal flight to a different airport.

    1. Ted Greenhalgh
      February 24, 2013

      Surely the best comment so far.

    2. Edward
      February 24, 2013

      Thats fine for one journey passengers ie holiday makers, but most world travellers need a hub.
      Its a fact.

  16. Bob
    February 23, 2013

    Fortune favours the brave.

    “There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.”

  17. David Langley
    February 23, 2013

    I hate to see the South East of England getting more and more congested, the North West is accused of living off the revenue. I cannot see this vastly overcrowded Island of England doing anything other however than building an Extension Airport to Heathrow in the Thames Estuary and slowly closing Heathrow as the Estuary develops.
    I appreciate the facts that some may try and have both, but the answer to the growing nightmare of Heathrow is surely the estuary with new rapid links to everywhere. HS Rail or internal flights, many comment on the crap communications with Heathrow. Its really past its utility.

    1. lifelogic
      February 23, 2013

      We need a major hub airport which can take all the connecting local flights to link up. More runways are needed a 5 runway Heathwick is the only answer that is sensible.

  18. Jon
    February 23, 2013

    When I first went to Heathrow about 30 years ago I thought what’s this doing in the middle of a built up city and I found it stressful to drive there and confusing. When it was first built there it was a different environment.

    The 1 runway all this fuss is about is not enough, Heathrow would need at least 2 runways just to maintain demand. Its a hopeless long term bet.

    It was the wrong place for a major hub 30 years ago and just because lots of money has been sunk into a bad decision decades ago will not change that, throwing good money after bad.

    Re jigging the desination allocations would mean Gatwick and Stanstead could be all or part of the solution. As would a new hub. Heathrow is a hub in the wrong place and no amount of money will change that it will just stack up the cost of a bad decision. This 1 runway will be inadequate before its even completed.

    When you go down a wrong path it can seem irritating to have to double back and choose another but that better than carrying on in the wrong direction.

  19. English Pensioner
    February 23, 2013

    I think that more consideration needs to be given to the safety aspects. Having worked in the aviation industry, I think we must regard Heathrow as being a very “lucky” airport as there have been no accident that I can remember affecting people on the ground, although there have been a number of very near misses. The most recent of these being the Boeing 777-200 which landed short of the runway due to icing in the engine. Just imagine the casualties if the engine failure had occurred a minute or so earlier and the plane had lost power over Isleworth or Brentford. The previous crash, a Trident in 1972, killed all the passengers but avoided deaths on the ground as it hit land adjacent to the Staines reservoirs. Again, a few minutes later and it would have hit Slough or Windsor.
    This is a very good record, certainly better than many major airports, but why should it continue? These matters are out of the control of the airport authorities being an issue for the operator or manufacturer of the aircraft. For that reason I believe that an estuary airport is the best, and safest long term option; if I was living to the east or west of the airport I would be concerned that statistically we will one day have a major incident killing hundreds on the ground, and with every passing year this probability must increase.

  20. Leslie Singleton
    February 23, 2013

    With the good of the whole country at stake, I find it tough to take that a few relatively well-to-do local people should be able to hold up the rest of us. It’s not just ordinary nimbyism because that term generally applies to a specific and purely local project where the nimbyists are as important as anybody in the decision but, as I say, that doesn’t apply as regards Heathrow. In any event I assume good compensation would be paid of course. Once again the system we have sucks because the MP’s making a lot of noise on the subject undeniably have their own interests rather than the country’s at heart. The French have a saying, I believe, which says, If you are going to drain the pond, you do not consult the frogs.

  21. Mark B
    February 23, 2013

    Why always London ?

    We need to spread things about.

    If you build another runway and increase capacity, you will also need to have an additional workforce to services this extra need. Where are they going to live ? What about, hospitals, schools and other services. Not to mention the road and rail networks. London is FULL !!!

    Whatever is decided, it must be another site further out, or even another part of the country.

  22. Mark
    February 23, 2013

    Missing post here too.

  23. bluedog
    February 23, 2013

    Quite right, expanding Heathrow is the only rational decision.

    It merely requires responsible political leadership to explain why there is no alternative to this conclusion. Replicating the sunk costs and environmental impact of Heathrow at another site in SE England is not a viable proposition.

    Boris Johnson is capable of understanding that point, but irresponsibly chooses not to do so.

  24. alan jutson
    February 24, 2013

    Whilst Heathrow is closer, we always try and use Gatwick from Wokingham.

    Just jump on a train and in an hour you are there, they also do a 4 person group railway ticket for £40.00 (£10.00 each) return cost.

    Only down side, last train from Gatwick is just after midnight, so if flight delayed its an overnight stop.

    Wherever you put an airport, or expand an existing one, you will get complaints, but it does create additional jobs in the area.
    Putting in the correct infrastructure to cope with more traffic is absolutely vital for success and ease of use.

  25. Lindsay McDougall
    February 24, 2013

    I disagree. The planning constraints on adding a runway to Gatwick come off in 2019. As I understand it, we could open a new runway to aircraft in that year – provided only that we extract our digit and get on with it now.

    Gatwick is served by a good railway and by the M23 south of the M25. North of the M25, parts of the A23 are severely congested. However, over time one could extend the M23 northwards or widen the A23 at bottlenecks.

    Why this obsession with hub airports? Getting to or from London is what it should all be about. If all London airports had different owners, healthy competition would result. Heathrow could price higher if it wanted to. Americans would have to spend more time researching the best transit airport for the particular journey they wanted to make. So? Is that an insurmountable problem?

    1. Athelwulf
      February 24, 2013

      ‘Why this obsession with hub airports?’ – Exports, as I understand it. We need direct flights from the UK to cities in Brazil, India, China etc and visa versa.
      Heathrow has a mere two runways and flights from there reach 194 destinations in 84 countries. By comparison the KLM hub at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport has 296 destinations in 97 countires. The airport is a true hub with six runways. Lufthansa’s hub at Frankfurt has four runways and there are flights to 275 destinations in 111 countries. Charles de Gaulle airport at Paris reaches 300 destinations in 106 countries and also has four runways. We need to export more outside the EU to pay off our massive debt. But the government prefers to forge ahead with HS2 and kick the idea of a new UK hub airport into the long grass which will keep the officials in Brussels happy, no doubt

      1. Lindsay McDougall
        February 25, 2013

        An extra runway of full length at Gatwick can be delivered in less time than expansion at Heathrow and in much less time than HS2 or Boris Island. We need the extra capacity ASAP.

        The difficulities at Heathrow are considerable. A third runway within the existing airport boundary would have to be shorter than is desirable, whilst extending Heathrow across the M25, well ……. the mind boggles.

  26. Robert Taggart
    February 24, 2013

    What about LUTON Airport ?
    No, honestly – being to the North-west of Lundun – it be ‘nearer’ to ‘provincial’ Blighty. Plus, with good road links (M1) and good rail links (Midland Mainline / Thameslink) – it be well connected to other infrastructure. Should it become ‘UK HUB’ those connections could be improved further relatively easily.
    Furthermore, Luton – not the nicest of places anyway – so a hub airport with all the attendant congestion / pollution – would do no real harm to an already awful place !

    1. Robert Taggart
      February 24, 2013

      Forgot to mention…
      Because of its location and the runway alignment ( East/Northeast – West/Southwest) – there would be no need for either incoming or outgoing aircraft to fly over central (Greater ?) Lundun.
      In these ‘terrorble’ times that must be for the best ?

      1. frank salmon
        February 25, 2013

        You are right about Luton. I drove through it once because of the congestion created by widening the motorway….
        So why widen the motorway without a plan to expand the airport? Maybe our Orwellian civil service have plans they have not yet announced…..

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