The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has called on the Government to accelerate work to deliver a brand new hub airport in the southeast, saying that if the new airport is not delivered in the shortest possible time then the economy of London and the UK will stagnate.
However, the Mayor ruled out any expansion of Heathrow airport, and said that the only solution to the aviation capacity crisis is a new four-runway hub airport. He told an audience of aviation experts and business leaders that the scale of the site required for a four runway airport meant that Heathrow was ruled out. Realistic locations included the Thames Estuary and possibly Stansted, which was Ken Livingstone’s favoured option.
The Mayor also criticised the timetable that the Government has set out for the Davies Commission, which is not currently due to report back until the next Parliament, in 2015. The Mayor believes that the programme of work is too slow and that the economy of London and the UK will suffer as a result of the delay. That deterioration in London’s international connectivity will mean the capital loses ground against its international competitors that will be difficult to recover.
The Mayor says he intends to accelerate his own work to consider thoroughly all options for construction of a new hub airport to serve London and the south east and submit his findings to the Davies commission as soon as possible.
The Mayor reiterated the challenges to the UK’s economy that are posed by the lack of capacity at Heathrow, which is already operating at up to 99 per cent of its capacity. Aviation demand in Europe alone is set to grow by four per cent a year over the next 20 years according to Boeing and aviation markets across the developing economies of the Far East are set to boom.
London is the motor of the UK economy and the capital’s economic performance relies heavily on its international connectivity. However with no capacity to take on new routes at Heathrow, other European cities that have, or are already building multi-runway hub airports, are set to take advantage of the lack of expansion in the UK and win jobs and business that would have been destined for London.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “The Government programme to address the looming aviation capacity crunch in the UK is far too slow and I am hugely concerned that their intended timetable sets a course for economic catastrophe. This continued inertia is being fully exploited by our European rivals who already possess mega hub airports that they intend to use to erode our advantage. I will continue to work with the Government and the Davies Commission; but the urgency of the situation and the lamentable attention that the Government has paid to this pressing issue has forced me to accelerate the work that I will do to develop a credible solution.”
The Mayor intends to ask the Government to shorten their proposed timetable and require the Davies Commission to publish its final report by the end of 2013.
Council leader Ravi Govindia, leader of Wandsworth Council and chair of the 2M group said: “If the UK needs a hub airport then it can’t be at Heathrow. The case against a third runway is far too strong and it would not provide enough extra capacity to meet the country’s needs. Two years after opening the airport would be completely full again and a fourth runway would be the only way to keep the hub competitive. That would be an environmental catastrophe and blight the lives of millions of Londoners.”