Expansion of Heathrow ‘best option’ for business

Colin Matthews: 'Heathrow is better for passengers, business and jobs'. Picture: PA
Colin Matthews: 'Heathrow is better for passengers, business and jobs'. Picture: PA
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EXPANDING Heathrow rather than creating a replacement “hub” airport at Stansted or in the Thames estuary would leave businesses and passengers better off, according to a report today.

The analysis, commissioned by Heathrow as part of evidence to present to the Airports Commission examining options for Britain’s network, argues that expanding the present site was the “quickest way for Britain to get ahead in the global race”.

It argues that investment at Heathrow would connect the UK to growing markets around the world faster and at less cost to the taxpayer than any other hub option.

Last month a report by the House of Commons transport committee also said that the UK government should reject the so-called “Boris Island” Thames estuary airport plan and expand Heathrow instead.

It warned that a new hub could even lead to the closure of Heathrow.

Today’s report – published by Heathrow and compiled by architectural and planning consultants Aecom and Quod – claims that building a hub airport to the east of London would increase travel times for 90 per cent of passengers.

The report estimated that additional capacity at Heathrow could be delivered around eight years more quickly than any replacement hub could be built.

Any delay was critical, it warned, as it said the UK was losing some £14 billion a year in trade and export earnings due to constraints in aviation capacity. “Each additional year of delay would see the UK fall further behind European hub competitors in the race for growth and jobs,” the report said.

Colin Matthews, chief executive of Heathrow, added: “Why build from scratch at a new hub when we can build on the strength that already exists around Heathrow today? Heathrow is better located for passengers, business and jobs.”

The CBI recently said that Britain’s economy would get a £1bn-a-year trade boost if there was just one extra flight a day to the eight fastest-growing world destinations.

The report comes a day after German leasing company Doric Asset Finance placed an $8bn (£5bn) order for 20 Airbus A380 superjumbos, pictured below, as total orders on the first day of the biannual Paris air show hit $30bn.

The Doric contract came on top of an earlier announcement of $10bn in orders from aircraft leasing firm Gecas, a unit of General Electric, for a larger version of rival Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner.

Despite the early flurry of deals at the show, the total number of orders this year was expected to be down on the last Paris event in 2011.