Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Airport capacity need 'costing UK'

Heathrow chiefs want to see a third runway at the airport

Lack of capacity at Heathrow is already costing the UK up to £14 billion a year in lost trade, according to a report.

This figure could rise to £26 billion a year by 2030, the report published by Heathrow added.

Heathrow bosses are keen to see a third, extra, runway at the west London airport but this has been ruled out for the time being by the Government.

The report said the UK needed one hub airport to compete with Europe. It added that having a dual-hub plan, where two sites would serve as hub airports, would not work.

The report also ruled out as "unviable" the so-called Heathwick plan, where Heathrow and Gatwick would be joined by a rail link.

Prepared by economics consultants Frontier Economics, the report said: "The choice for the UK is not between two hubs or one, but between one hub or none. Only a single airport can operate as a hub in the UK.

That leaves three options for the UK Government - It can do nothing and let the UK fall behind its European competitors at the cost of lost growth and jobs; It can add additional capacity at Heathrow; Or it can close Heathrow and replace it with a new hub airport."

The Government has appointed former Financial Services Authority chief Sir Howard Davies to head an aviation commission which will deliver its full report on UK airport capacity needs to ministers in summer 2015 - after the next general election.

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: "The UK is currently one of the best connected countries in the world. Our airport network provides UK citizens and business with the international connections they need to trade, to visit friends and family and to go on holiday.

"Maintaining that is vital to our economy and history suggests that to do so, we will need an agreed evidence base and a high degree of political consensus. The strength with which the different options for achieving this are put forward shows precisely why we were right to set up a proper independent review with the timescale to consider fully what is in the country's interest."

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