Airports Need to Be Better Used

Major new report questions need for new airport capacity, even at Heathrow

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A major report released this week by the London Assembly questions the need for new airport capacity, even at Heathrow. 

The in-depth study by the Assembly Transport Committee, Airport Capacity in London, has found that airport capacity in London is currently underused with some London airports having more than half of their runway slots free.  Even Heathrow – at 99 per cent runway capacity – might potentially fly an additional 20 million passengers every year if larger aircraft were used.  Research commissioned by the Assembly found that at Stansted Airport 47 per cent of runway slots are available; at Luton Airport 51 per are available; with12 per cent currently available at Gatwick.

The report also questions the need for more hub capacity in London, whether it is new runways at Heathrow or a brand new airport in the Estuary.  Its research shows that seventy-five per cent of flights from Heathrow, the UK's only major international hub airport, are short haul and London remains the best-connected city in Europe to the world’s 23 fastest-growing economies.

Caroline Pidgeon, Chair of the Transport Committee, said: “Evidence we received shows that the Airport Commission must examine whether better use of existing airport capacity could be an intelligent cost-effective alternative to building new airports or runways”.

John Stewart, the chair of HACAN, representing residents under the Heathrow flight paths, said, "The findings of this report are hugely significant.  They put a gigantic question mark against the need for any more runways in London and the South East."


May 2, 2013