British Airways is urging the government to grasp a major opportunity to make Heathrow expansion the centrepiece of its future airport strategy and boost the UK economy by
In its response to the government’s consultation on airport infrastructure, which it is submitting today, the airline is calling for a new short runway to be built at London Heathrow airport . In due course, as passenger demand rises, this should be followed by additional runways at other London airports with Gatwick to be given priority over Stansted.
British Airways believes that, by building a third short runway at Heathrow, Britain will gain maximum economic benefit from having an effective international hub airport. It will also create additional capacity to provide better air links for regions throughout the UK.
Key elements of British Airways’ response are:
; The construction of a new short runway at Heathrow as a top priority. * ; An alternative location to the government’s plan for a Heathrow runway which would save the historic centre of Harmondsworth including St Mary’s church, its graveyard and the Great Barn. * ; The phased development, as passenger demand rises, of additional runways at other London airports with Gatwick to be given priority over Stansted. * ; A comprehensive package of public transport improvements, such as Airtrack1, to be built at the same time as airport developments. * ; Fundamental restructuring of the government’s planning system for major infrastructure projects.
Research by the airline shows that a third short runway at Heathrow would generate
£37 billion of economic benefits for the UK over a 50 year period2. No other single runway option would create such wealth.
A short third runway at Heathrow and a second runway at Gatwick would generate
£65 billion of benefits with just two new runways. Building three or four runways in one location, to create an alternative hub at either Stansted or Cliffe, would cost more, have greater financial risk and provide fewer economic benefits.
The airline calculated the direct and indirect economic benefits, plus construction and global warming costs, of each of the new runway options. Critically, it also analysed other key factors not assessed by the government. Firstly, the cost of forcing airlines to move some of their services from Heathrow to Stansted or Cliffe, as proposed by the government. Secondly, the financial risk associated with building new mega-hub airports rather than adding one additional runway at established airports. Thirdly, a more realistic assessment of the costs of building new public transport links to Stansted and Cliffe.
Rod Eddington, British Airways’ chief executive, said: “We urge the government to build a new short runway at Heathrow as a first priority if Britain is to maximise the benefits that aviation brings to our economy. Ignoring Heathrow or trying to split its operations between two airports in the South East will dilute its economic benefits and undermine employment centres. It will also reduce the number of international routes served from London and deny access from the British regions to the country’s aviation hub.
“We also need an effective planning system, so new developments are built sooner rather than later, and a radical overhaul of the compensation system for those people adversely affected by these developments.”
The airline is confident that the environmental challenges facing a third short runway can be overcome. It believes that the Government’s estimates that 35,000 people at Heathrow will be above the new 2010 EU limit for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions, have been greatly exaggerated. NO2 measurements undertaken by the airline show that less than1,000 people are likely to be affected and, with additional mitigation measures, that figure can be reduced to zero.
In addition, British Airways has drawn up an alternative plan for a third runway at Heathrow which moves it 200 metres to the east and saves the historic centre of Harmondsworth. It also believes that the runway can be accommodated within the noise levels set down as a condition of the Terminal Five decision and without the need for additional night flights.
The airline’s submission is based on an economic and environmental analysis of the options set out in the government’s consultation documents, plus discussions with community groups, businesses and local authorities in the Heathrow area.