|HACAN Challenges BAA Claim On China|
Says visa difficulties not lack of runway capacity deter Chinese
Campaign group HACAN has challenged BAA’s claim that it is lack of capacity at Heathrow that is limiting the number of flights between the UK and mainland China. There is a bilateral agreement between the two countries which restricts flights between the two countries to 62 a week (a separate agreement covers Hong Kong). HACAN has produced evidence to show that the difficulty of getting a visa is a major deterrent to Chinese people coming to Britain.
BAA today (Nov 14) claimed that Frankfurt and Paris are leaving Heathrow behind as they forge ahead with extra flights to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, China’s biggest cities. BAA's Chief Executive said the two continental airports combined offered 1,000 more flights to the cities than Heathrow in the 12 months to September last year, and another 532 on top by September this year. But HACAN Chair John Stewart said BAA was being disingenuous.
Stewart said: “When they talk about China, they exclude Hong Kong. If you include Hong Kong which is the natural destination for a lot of British business, Heathrow outperforms the other European competitors.”
HACAN is also critical of claims BAA will make tomorrow (Nov 15) that it is essential Heathrow expands as a ‘hub’ airport if it is to complete with other major European airports. BAA will claim that it is the number of transfer passengers who will use an expanded hub airport which will make it commercially viable for airlines to run more flights to key destinations of the world and so make London an attractive place to do business.
But Stewart challenged this: “We can find no hard evidence that the London economy will lose out if Heathrow does not expand as a hub. The reason for this is London’s importance as a destination to business people. Heathrow has the largest number of terminating passengers of any airport in the world. It therefore does not need the extra passengers an expanded hub would bring to make it commercially viable to operate lots of flights to key business destinations.”
November 14, 2012