Heathrow has submitted evidence to the Airports Commission challenging Gatwick’s claims that it is able to support long-haul flights to growth markets.
Heathrow say that Gatwick’s recent claims to be able to support intercontinental flights are weakened by the fact 20 long-haul airlines have withdrawn from Gatwick in the last five years.
Direct long-haul flights are critical to supporting trade and growth. UK businesses trade 20 times more with emerging markets that have daily flights than those with less frequent or no direct service, say Heathrow.
Gatwick have said that long-haul flights do not need to operate from a hub airport. Heathrow contests that, in the ten years that Heathrow has been full, Gatwick has failed to deliver flights to long-haul business destinations. Airlines that have been unable to access slots at Heathrow have tried and failed to make long-haul flights from Gatwick work, they say.
Heathrow Chief Executive Colin Matthews said: “There is no need for a crystal ball to test Gatwick’s claims that it can provide long-haul flights when we have the hard evidence of ten years of failure. While Heathrow has been full, airline after airline has tried without success to make long-haul flights from Gatwick work. Gatwick doesn’t have a flight to New York, one of the world’s most important business and financial centres, so it’s not surprising it can’t support routes to the less popular and more distant destinations that will be critical to future trade.”
“Gatwick’s proposal to prevent Heathrow expanding, while adding a new runway at its own airport, endangers Britain’s future competitiveness. It is a zero-hub solution that will lead to an irreversible decline in Britain’s international connections. Only a hub airport with the scale to compete internationally can provide the long-haul flights the UK needs.”
Heathrow say they are not opposed to growth at Gatwick as long as it is alongside building an expanded hub airport.