Warped incentives have led to ‘Heathrow Hassle’, and owner’s BAA could reduce delays by cutting capacity by 1%, equivalent to 4,800 flights, according to a new report from business lobby group for the capital.
London First said action needs to be taken immediately to stop delays because a proposed third runway will not be ready until at least 2020.
The report, Imagine a World Class Heathrow, identifies key symptoms of ‘Heathrow Hassle’: flight delays, long and unreliable waiting times, deteriorating airport buildings and economic incentives geared to cramming in extra flights and passengers. The new report suggests potential short-term solutions and further ideas for debate.
Baroness Jo Valentine, Chief Executive of London First, said: “Heathrow has been turned from a silk purse to a sow’s ear. Once an asset in attracting business to the capital, it is at risk of becoming a liability. How? For years, government, policy-makers and the regulator have failed to prioritise the interests of airport passengers.”
“London’s international connectivity is essential to its appeal as a business location. In a globalised world, business needs to fly to reach customers and clients. Quite simply, if business can’t fly easily, reliably and comfortably from London, it will go elsewhere.
She added: “While proposals for Runway 3 will undeniably address capacity issues in the long term, we need a better Heathrow now. An overhaul of airport regulation is needed to secure tangible and rapid improvement if the reputation of Heathrow and of London is to be restored.”
The report’s main recommendations are:
1. Cut the queues: give responsibility for reducing excessive and uncertain waiting times to one organisation.
2. Bring substandard terminal ‘fabric’ back to up scratch: incentivise day-to-day maintenance to keep facilities in good working order.
3. Reduce flight delays: re-introduce some breathing space, either by increasing Heathrow’s capacity without increasing usage, or by permitting fewer flights.