Construction of a third runway at Heathrow is expected to get the support of the Commons Transport Select Committee today when it publishes a report into the future of UK aviation. It is also hinting that Gatwick airport would be a better location for expansion in the future than Stansted.
The Future of Aviation will argue that British airports, particularly Heathrow, must be better connected to maintain the UK as a key European travel hub.
The report states that there are “economic benefits” to a third runway at Heathrow, as long as there is better access to the airport and it is subject to tough environmental restrictions. However, it also rejects a proposed second runway at Stansted, saying that the economic advantages are unclear. It will recommend Gatwick airport as a better location for expansion.
Louise Ellman, chairman of the committee, said: “Aviation is important to the UK economy, both in the South East of England and in the regions; regional airports are important for regional economic growth and transport.”
“Heathrow is a major European hub, but only six UK cities have flights into it. We need to improve direct access to Heathrow from the national rail network in order to maximise the economic benefits and to reduce the environmental impacts.”
The cross-party committee of MPs is also recommending that any hikes to air passenger duty (APD) must factor in the depth of the current aviation recession. It cites that there are about 200,000 people employed by the aviation industry, down from 520,000 in 2004.
It will also argue for countrywide high-speed rail links to ease the environment impact of the anticipated increase in air travel. But they acknowledge the limit that train travel can replace short-haul flights.
Approximately 225 million passengers flew from UK airports last year, a figure that is set to double by 2030.