New research shows claims London can split its hub airport over multiple sites are without foundation.
There is no evidence that any cities across the world have successfully done this, or that low cost carriers, new aircraft or relocating alliances will change that, argues Heathrow Airport.
While Heathrow and others such as the London Mayor argue the only way to solve the UK’s lack of direct connections to long-haul emerging markets is via a larger hub airport, others such as Gatwick claim this is unnecessary, and that splitting demand across multiple airports would also work.
The research, written by independent aviation consultants JLS Consulting, looked at cities around the world to see if there was any evidence that the split solution could work.
It concludes emphatically that there are no successful versions of this model.
The JLS report shows that whilst short-haul, point to point services have seen rapid growth in the UK since the late 1990s, the same has not happened with long-haul services despite there being space at non-hub airports.
Despite this already compelling evidence against the split-hub model, Heathrow commissioned today’s report to see if there was any evidence it could work in the future.
It concludes that there are numerous cities around the world with multiple airports but that, like London, they use those airports for different functions – and have, at most, one hub.
New York has three network carriers but still only supports one hub airport, Newark. JFK operates as a point to point airport supported by New York’s huge urban population (circa 19 million).
Tokyo attempted to split its hub airport into two and its connectivity and economy has suffered as a result.
Paris has one hub (Charles de Gaulle) with Orly operating as a point to point airport.
Moscow has no hub and consequently poor international connectivity.
The report argues that the complexity and financial difficulties of integrating carrier schedules to make use of transfer traffic explains why there are so few hub airports in the world, ‘let alone two competing hubs in the same city’.
Colin Matthews, Heathrow chief executive, said: “This research shows that no world cities have successfully split demand across multiple hub airports.
“However convenient it would be to believe that London could be the first, we cannot bet the UK’s economic prosperity on wishful thinking.
“The UK can only benefit from improved long haul connections by building a bigger hub airport.”