Independent body to consider new runways in London region
BRITAIN’S AIRPORT capacity has failed to keep pace with rival hubs in France, Germany and the Netherlands, the Cameron government admitted yesterday, as it confirmed plans for an independent commission to consider new runways in southeast England.
Patrick McLoughlin, the new transport secretary, tasked the commission with producing recommendations to safeguard the UK’s status as an aviation hub.
His Commons statement hinted that the government wanted the commission to examine contentious “mixed-mode” operations at London’s Heathrow airport, whereby aircraft would take off and land from both runways simultaneously, creating more jet noise.
Sir Howard Davies, the former head of the CBI employers’ organisation and Financial Services Authority, will chair the commission, which is expected also to consider long-term solutions to the UK’s hub capacity crunch.
Heathrow has been operating at near full capacity for several years, and BAA, its owner, says the UK could miss out on trade with emerging markets worth £14 billion over the next decade because the airport is struggling to support links to developing countries.
Business leaders have been urging the government to consider the case for a third runway.
“This is a very difficult debate, but the reality is that since the 1960s, Britain has failed to keep pace with our international competitors in addressing long-term aviation capacity and connectivity,” Mr McLoughlin said.
“Germany, France and the Netherlands have all grown their capacity more extensively than the UK over the years and so are better equipped, now and in the future, to connect with the fast-growing markets of emerging economies.” – Copyright the Financial Times Limited 2012