Future Heathrow - a group representing airlines, local and national commerce, trade unions and BAA, the airport’s operator – said the proposed growth “would remove the threat to London’s status as a global business capital and establish world-class air links for the UK regions to boost inward investment.” Based on a study carried out by Oxford Economic Forecasting, Future Heathrow forecasts the expansion would benefit wealth and job creation across the country by nearly £10 billion ($20.5 billion) a year.
BAA’s Chief Executive, Stephen Nelson, said: “This consultation spells good news for passengers. Heathrow is full and its dependence on two runways, while European competitors have four or five, causes delays, stacks and crawling taxiway queues. The cost of this congestion can be measured economically and environmentally.
“More efficient, or mixed-mode, use of the existing runways would allow us to cut delays at a stroke, while a third runway will mean we can add new destinations to the UK’s global reach. There will be no more noise overall from the airport, better air quality and improved public transport links.”
Industry and the trade unions joined in welcoming the proposal. “Good air links are vital to UK businesses operating in a global economy and Heathrow, as our national hub, has been constrained for too long,” said Richard Lambert, Director General of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), which represents public and private sector companies. “The government needs to move forward swiftly so that extra capacity at Heathrow can become a reality.”
Brendan Barber, General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), said: “Aviation supports around 500,000 jobs in the UK, and many others in support services, so the future of Heathrow is crucial to our economy. We want to see Heathrow’s development deliver secure, high-quality jobs in a well-unionised environment.
“We welcome the Government’s commitment to balancing the economic benefits of airport expansion with environmental aspects, not only local noise and air pollution, but also national climate change priorities. The TUC looks forward to working with government to ensure the sustainable development of Heathrow.”
Airlines like BA and Virgin believe the environmental impact caused by the expansion will be limited. “We are committed to ensuring that growth is sustainable. By the time a third runway becomes operational, aviation emissions will have been capped by the EU for several years,” said Willie Walsh, BA’s Chief Executive.
“If airlines want to fly more, they will have to pay for emissions reductions in other industries – so overall CO2 in the atmosphere will not rise because of a third runway.”
Steve Ridgeway, Chief Executive of Virgin Atlantic, said: “Limiting growth at Heathrow wouldn’t prevent climate change because that growth would only go elsewhere.”
The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents airlines operating 94% of global scheduled traffic, said the only long-term solution to Heathrow’s capacity problems was a third runway, as mixed-mode runway operation of the existing runways was “useful but a short-term fix”.
“Heathrow is Europe’s busiest international hub and critical to the UK’s competitiveness. It is also bursting at the seams,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General.
“Heathrow has been operating with the same runway capacity for 60 years. On infrastructure, it is the poor cousin among Europe’s great airports. Paris operates with four runways, Frankfurt with three and Amsterdam with five. If Heathrow does not catch up on capacity, the economic benefits of being Europe’s premier hub are anything but guaranteed.
“The consultation committee will be weighing up the costs as well as the benefits for the economy and the environment. Let’s get the calculation right. A congested airport with chronic delays has an unnecessary environmental cost. So capacity expansion has an environmental benefit. The airline industry’s commitment to a 25% improvement in fuel efficiency by 2020 is solid and endorsed by the UK government. The next step is carbon neutral growth while aiming for a carbon-free future. Short-sighted decisions must not saddle UK competitiveness with the long-term burden of second-rate infrastructure.”
Oxford Economic Forecasting Report
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