The Mayor of London has released a report that says it is crucial that London and the UK are served by a large hub airport with at least four runways.
The Mayor has submitted his response to the Davies Commission’s discussion paper on Airport Operational Models. It makes a strong argument that the hub operating model is desirable for economic growth, and presents analysis of the destinations and route frequencies the UK will benefit from if we develop a single, large hub airport.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “We are looking here at definitive proof that London and the UK will benefit hugely from significant expansion of our hub airport capacity. To get the flights we need, it has to be four runways operating efficiently in one place rather than spread haphazardly across the south east. A four-runway airport will secure us the direct connections to the emerging markets around the world that will allow us to compete with our international rivals, who are busy building and growing their mega airports even as we speak.”
The detailed route-by-route analysis, compiled by aviation advisors York Aviation, says that a four runway hub airport is the best option for connectivity, providing a much wider range and greater frequency of flights than if the same number of runways were spread across the south east.
With access to developing markets believed to be vital to securing the UKs economic position, a four runway hub airport will allow London’s airport system to reach more than twice the number of destinations in China and South America than equivalent dispersed expansion – a quadrupling of connectivity to those regions relative to today.
New routes that a four-runway hub airport could support include a new daily flight to Xi’an, which currently cannot be reached directly from the UK. A Chinese city of more than 7 million people, Xi’an is the centre of China’s thriving software and aerospace industries. With UK Government figures valuing each flight to China at over £1 million in goods exports, this service alone could add more than £350 million of yearly goods exports to our trade with one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing economies.
The UK also currently suffers from weak direct connections to Latin American economies rich in raw materials, with UK travellers forced to connect via European hubs on the continent. Today 21 flights per week serve 2 Mexican destinations. With a four runway hub, connections could increase dramatically to 53 flights per week serving 5 destinations (with new routes to Monterrey, Guadalajara and Puebla). South American connections could increase from 3 to 13 destinations. These ten new destinations could include twice daily services to both Lima and Santiago de Chile – both of which are currently served by rival European hubs. Lima has around than 7000 factories and its skilled labour force is growing fast, it is also a regional cargo hub.
A four runway airport would also enable direct flights to be re-established to Fukuoka, says the report, with two flights a day. This major Japanese region is an important centre for the automotive industry, and is home to one of the world’s largest manufacturers of industrial-use robotics.
While Heathrow Airport would likely agree with much of this analysis, they would not agree with the Mayor’s contention that Heathrow “does not and cannot operate as this effective hub”. He maintains that its location and a lack of sufficient available land combined with noise impacts – means it will not be allowed to expand to satisfy the needs of an effective hub.
The Mayor’s aviation adviser, Daniel Moylan, said: “The need for a single, large hub airport is undeniable – without the transfer passengers it collects, it is not viable to lay on many of the direct routes to destinations that are so beneficial to our residents and businesses here in the UK. This new data further illuminates the need for that airport to have at least four runways and room to grow, because it is spare airport capacity that allows airlines to innovate and experiment with new routes to emerging markets. This is a description of a national asset that Heathrow, with its severe size constraints and dire noise impacts, can never become.”