London First calls for R3

heathrow planeLondon First has renewed its commitment to expansion at Heathrow, saying that it is necessary to keep London in its position in the league of World Cities.

The business lobbying organisation recently organised a debate with representatives of Chicago O’Hare, Amsterdam Schiphol, Heathrow and Gatwick airports, and the Mayor of London’s aviation advisor, Daniel Moylan. During the debate, Jos Nijhuis, President and CEO of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol joked that the answer to the UK’s air capacity issue actually lay with Schiphol Airport – a six runway airport potentially within an hour of London.

Both speakers made the point that their success was founded on political support – Rosemarie Andolino, Commissioner at the Chicago Department of Aviation spoke of the importance of the support of the Mayor of Chicago and Governor of Illinois to support development and also of having a budget of $650m to take action such as acquiring land and relocating wetlands.

London First believes improving international air links is vital to maintaining London’s world city status and supporting economic recovery. They say that the Airports Commission must offer short-term proposals for increasing long-haul flights “that can be immediately set in motion”.

They call for an end to the current cap on ATMs, the enabling of mixed-mode runway use at Heathrow, and the deregulation of Gatwick and Stansted.

In the longer term, say London First, London needs additional runways, to provide capacity and competition, as quickly as possible. Their preference is for a third runway at Heathrow, coupled with a second runway at Gatwick.

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