Dismay over government’s new delay on airport expansion

The travel industry has reacted with dismay to reports that the government is set to delay its consultation on expanding airport capacity in the south-east to the autumn.

Transport secretary Justine Greening is expected to delay the impending airport capacity consultation until the autumn – the second time it has been delayed this year.

British Airways’ owner IAG said: “It looks like the government has stumbled before it has started. While we prevaricate, other countries like China and Middle East states storm ahead. Every delay is another step backwards for Britain.”

The consultation had originally been scheduled for March but was then delayed “until the summer” with the industry expecting it to be published before politicians start their summer holidays on July 17.

But now Greening is set to push the consultation into the autumn adding to speculation that the coalition government is deeply divided over the issue – particularly about a possible third runway at Heathrow. The transport secretary is instead due to publish an aviation policy document covering subjects such as emissions, noise levels and regional airports.

BAR UK chief executive Mike Carrivick said: “Delaying important decisions until later in the year demonstrates a lack of courage and the paralysis afflicting strategic policy making within the government.

“While this government struggles internally to establish a clear and defined hub airport policy for the future, competing nations will continue to take away the trade and commerce that should be welcomed in this country.

“BAR calls on the government to act decisively sooner rather than later and warns that continued prevarication is damaging to business and employment prospects.”

Adam Marshall, director of policy at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), added: “The government has spent years working on a strategy for UK aviation, so reports that there will be yet more delays beggar belief.

“Businesses are tired of indecision and equivocation on aviation. Ministers can’t tell businesses to look for new opportunities in emerging markets like Brazil and China, and then fail to provide the basic infrastructure needed to get there.

“The consequences of inaction are stark. If the government does not act swiftly to increase capacity in the south-east, strengthen our regional airports, and support the development of more connections to emerging markets, the UK will lose both investment and jobs.”

Report by Rob Gill

This article was originally published on our sister website abtn.co.uk


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  • Transport secretary Justine Greening cannot even oversee a consultation – what hope is there for her organising an actual Transport strategy?

    M’s Greening is a young MP who lives in Putney (under the LHR flight path) and thus has a conflict of interest – as she campaigned against LHR noise. Is it not time Mr Cameron brought in someone new who is impartial and experienced running Transport policy ?

    We need to get our Hub airport expanding rather than fading away. Lets get the 3rd runway back on the agenda and started, the construction companies will then employ people, GDP will increase and the UK gets back on course.

  • Heathrow is fatally flawed.

    It is mostly shut between midnight and 6am – reducing existing capacity by 25%, and any future runway would also only run at 75% of its potential.

    The site for a 3rd runway (the clearance of which would cause massive environmental disruption) is constrained such that it cannot be as long as the other two runways, meaning that it could only be used for shorthaul aircraft.

    Additionally a 3rd runway would reduce capacity on the northerly existing runway as aircraft would have to cross that runway to reach the main terminal area, actually reducing the capacity of the existing two runways, not increasing it.

    Finally, even if you built the 3rd runway and managed the above constraints. what next? There is simply no room for a fourth runway, or the terminals/stands which would be required for the aircraft using it.

    With aviation demand doubling every decade, and China building ten new LHRs in the next decade, this sticking-plaster 3rd runway (which I was initially in favour of. but have since explored more closely and changed my mind) cannot be the right long term solution for the UK.

    It’s certainly debatable whether the Foster+Partners Thames Hub is the right solution, but a second runway at Gatwick in the interim while breaking ground on the Thames Hub and its supporting infrastructure seems to be the right approach, with the eventual transformation fo the existing LHR site into an exciting new Canary Wharf style mixed use development.

  • As usual there is a selective view expressed here.

    24 hour operation is only really of interest to those airlines which are 100% freight carriers. The vast majority of passengers wish to leave and arrive during what are considered “ormal ” hours. So as such this is a red herring.

    It is not true to say R3 cannot be as long as the other two. The disruption caused would most likely be less than any other option.

    It is not true to say there would be great disruption to traffic on the(present) northern runway. R3 has been envisaged as autonomous with its own terminal, T6, so that any aircraft using R3 would use T6 and not cross the northern runway to other terminals.

    A fourth runway is questionable under any circumstances. This is also true of the need for ONE massive hub airport. New York has three big hubs. London has three more which could be developed to the same extent. The tendency now is for passengers to question the need to have only one, massive, unmanageable site.

    Not all the passengers are interconnecting so do not need to get off one aircraft directly on to another. As long as the connections are available then the passengers will come. London is better placed than most to take advantage of its infrastructure without concreting over green fields or mudflats.

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