UK airlines reject Thames Estuary proposal

UK airlines reject Thames Estuary proposal

The Board of Airline Representatives UK (Bar UK) has dealt a body blow to proposals for a new London airport in the Thames Estuary, with nine out of ten airlines rejecting the proposals.

First mooted by London mayor Boris Johnson in 2008, the proposals would see a six runway facility built near Shivering Sands, north-east of Whitstable. Advocates argue a new airport would eventually supersede London Heathrow Airport, ending unpopular flights over south-east London. 

However, the ambitious plans have drawn fierce criticism.

British Airways, Air France and Virgin Atlantic are among the airlines opposed to the plans – with BA chief Willie Walsh arguing the proposals could create a “vast wasteland west of London”.

The results of the Bar UK survey are due to be presented to deputy Mayor, Kit Malthouse, later today.


Mr Malthouse is believed to be a strong advocate of the plans, appointing Doug Oakervee – chief executive of CrossRail - to lead the Greater London Authority’s preliminary feasibility study into the project.

Fantasy Island

While that report concluded last year there was “no logical reason” a new airport could not be built in the Thames Estuary, Bar UK cites a number of obstacles.

The report claims aircraft are 12 times more likely to be hit by bird strikes at the new location, due to large wildlife colonies in the estuary. Unemployment caused at Heathrow by the arrival of a large competitor is also cited as a concern, while the potential cost to the public purse is another issue.

An alternative third runway at Heathrow would be privately funded.

Bar UK - which represents 78 of the 90 carriers operating out country – said in a statement: “Bar UK and its members do not support such an airport.”