Tuesday, 2 September 2014

London Airport

A plan for a brand new airport for London championed by the city's mayor has failed to secure the backing of a commission studying how to add hub capacity in the UK. The commission found that the likely "obstacles to delivery, high costs and uncertain benefits" are in line with today’s thinking that a London airport in deepest Kent is pointless, as well as outrageously expensive.

The commission said “While we recognise the need for a hub airport, we believe this should be a part of an effective system of competing airports to meet the needs of a widely spread and diverse market like London's. There are serious doubts about the delivery and operation of a very large hub airport in the estuary. The economic disruption would be huge and there are environmental hurdles which it may prove impossible, or very time-consuming to surmount.”

Time and public money should never have been spent on a project whose costs have been put at up to £100 billion. This is more than what they want to spend on HS2! The proposals must be cost-effective and offer value for money. There needs to be a credible funding mechanism based on realistic forecasts and today's passengers must not be expected to pay for tomorrow's infrastructure.

London, with five main commercial airports, has struggled with Heathrow, the U.K.'s principal long-haul airport, which has little margin to absorb operational or weather-induced disruptions. Advocates of more capacity have said an inability to accommodate new flights to routes into growth markets such as China puts the U.K.'s economic development at risk.

The rejection of the estuary scheme will leave just three options - two additional runway plans at Heathrow and one at Gatwick - still on the table for consideration by the commission, which is charged with recommending where airport expansion should come.

Expanding Gatwick will ensure the U.K. is served by two successful world class airports. It can liberate hub capacity at Heathrow and open up the opportunities for affordable long haul travel to emerging markets for the benefit of everyone. It already has an excellent connection to London with first class rail travel taking a mere 30 minutes from London Victoria. There is more than enough room to expand without disturbing the local populous.

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