Third Runway at Heathrow a Priority

“The UK and London require one international hub/gateway airport”, said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA Director General and CEO in a letter to UK Transport Minister Alistair Darling. “It follows that Heathrow should continue to play that role” he added.

The letter introduced IATA’s response to the Consultation on the South East that is part of the wider UK Government Consultation on the Future Development of Air Transport.

Demand for the South East is forecast to grow to 360 million passengers per year by 2030 while forecast capacity is only 180 million passengers per year. There is, therefore, a very significant shortfall.

In its recommendations, IATA pointed out that the “Provision of adequate airspace and airport capacity is a prerequisite for achieving significant reductions in congestion, delays and greenhouse gas emissions.”

IATA’s response emphasised three main priorities. First priority is Heathrow. A third runway should be built, 2000m long, with related terminal and stands all to the north of the Bath Road, to be operational by 2012.


Second priority is Stansted. A second widely-spaced runway should be constructed to be operational by 2014.

The third priority is a choice of either building a third runway at Stansted or a second one at Gatwick, depending on market demand. It would become operational in 2020.

Liberalisation of intra-European aviation could induce airline mergers and further stimulate hub and spoke systems at a limited number of large airports. A second London hub is therefore not plausible.

Europe requires a well-connected infrastructure network and, if the UK does not participate now to accommodate such capacity developments, it may find itself left behind.

Point-to-point airports such as Stansted also require expanded facilities to handle growth of existing sectors and possible future niche markets, offering a high number of destinations and frequencies but with operations on a stand-alone, independent basis.

Referring to this need for multiple airport expansion, Bisignani concluded: “In order to ensure the continued viability of international aviation in the UK, with all its attendant social and economic benefits, runway development is essential.”