Boris turns to UK connectivity

A new report by York Aviation and Oxford Economics says that a new hub airport would connect regional cities to the global airline network better than a third runway at Heathrow.

The report is at odds with Heathrow’s statement around their submissions to the Davies Commission that a new runway at Heathrow would allow links to Exeter, Liverpool, Newquay, Jersey, Inverness, Isle of Man and Humberside airports (all of whom have a direct connection to Schiphol in Amsterdam) to be added to the existing links to Manchester, Newcastle, Leeds/Bradford, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Belfast and Aberdeen.

The report says a new hub in the Thames Estuary would provide a £2.1 billion boost and over 17,500 new jobs across the UK – while Heathrow contend their expansion plans would add 100,000 jobs to the economy.

Certainly over the last 20 years the number of routes into Heathrow from domestic airports around the UK has fallen dramatically. Schiphol has run an advertising campaign suggesting it connects the UK to the World. With 24 services to and from UK cities, it connects them better than any airport in England.

The new report, Making Connections, was written by York Aviation and Oxford Economics, and commissioned by Transport for London. It suggests a new four runway hub airport would restore those links and provide 49 more regional flights every day than a third runway at Heathrow would provide.

In contrast to Heathrow’s assertion that a third runway there would reverse the decline, the report says even with a third runway the number of domestic routes would decline further with the loss of the existing Leeds/Bradford route. They contend that a third runway would fill up very quickly due to existing demand at Heathrow, and that pressure on airlines to use slots for the most profitable routes would then mean domestic services would be crowded out again.

Louise Congdon, Managing Partner at York Aviation, said: “It might surprise some people that a third runway at Heathrow will do little to improve regional connectivity and not support any new routes due to commercial pressures on airlines”

Oxford Economics has calculated that the additional connectivity would lead to a £2.1 billion economic stimulus for the regional economies by 2050 in the form of increased Gross Value Added (GVA) and over 17,550 new jobs.

Commenting on the new report, the Mayor of London’s chief advisor on aviation, Daniel Moylan, said: “The current expansion debate must not be allowed to become simply a matter of where to build a new strip of tarmac in the south east. This is a decision that matters to the whole of the UK and it’s ludicrous that Amsterdam airport provides more than three times the number of UK regional connections than our so called national airport.”

“The report also nails the lie that a third runway would help the UK cities & regions that Heathrow has left behind. It won’t. It will be full within two or three years of opening and just as now airlines will be forced to concentrate on their most profitable long-haul routes. I hope the Airports Commission studies the report in detail and takes into account the economic needs of the UK as a whole when preparing its final report”.

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