British Airways today announced its support for the development of a second runway at Birmingham airport, an extra runway at Edinburgh or Glasgow airport and new passenger terminals at Manchester airport.
The airline is also proposing that any new runway at London Heathrow airport should have between 30 and 60 daily take-offs and landings reserved for extra flights to more UK regional airports.
These views are contained in its response to the government’s regional air studies co-ordination (RASCO) consultation which is examining where to develop UK airports outside of south east England in the period up to 2030.
Key elements of British Airways’ response are:
* ; An additional runway in the Midlands should be built at Birmingham airport because of the expected higher passenger demand there and its strong transport links. The airline believes there is no case for a new airport in the Midlands. * ; New terminals should be constructed at Manchester airport, as proposed by the government in its consultation documents. As a second runway at Manchester has recently opened, British Airways feels that it is not necessary to consider any additional runways at this stage.
* ; Towards the end of the 30 year consultation period, there is likely to be a need for an additional runway in the Scottish lowlands. The airline believes this should be at either Edinburgh or Glasgow airports and that the development of a new airport in central Scotland should not be considered.
* ; A new short runway at Heathrow should have between 30 and 60 take-offs and landings each day reserved for extra flights to more UK regional airports. A short runway could only be used by smaller aircraft on shorthaul services and could not be displaced by longhaul flights which would operate from Heathrow’s two longer runways. Regional passengers would then be guaranteed access into the UK’s international hub airport and destinations around the world.
British Airways’ response to the RASCO consultation complements its response to the government’s consultation on airport developments in South East England which it made last month.
Rod Eddington, British Airways’ chief executive, said: “We support fully the sustainable development of airports in the British regions, in response to increasing passenger demand, and believe that any new runways should be built at existing airports rather than at new sites.
“Strong air links to London and the range of services provided by an international hub airport are vital for regional development in the UK. Most regional airports are unable to support an extensive longhaul flight network as there is insufficient passenger demand in the immediate catchment area. That is why the role of Heathrow is key to the success of Britain.
“During the last few years, the number of regional routes served from Heathrow has been reduced due to the lack of runway capacity there. A third runway will enable British Airways and other airlines to start new commercially viable regional services from Heathrow, hopefully using slots reserved for that purpose.
“Regional-based passengers will then have better connections to London’s inter-continental services. Regional businesses will gain improved access to the capital and local economies can benefit from direct Heathrow links. “
British Airways, together with its subsidiaries, is a major operator from UK regional airports to other points in the UK and overseas. British Airways CitiExpress is one of Europe’s largest regional airlines carrying 4.5 million passengers a year on more than 90 routes from 21 airports across the British Isles.