As the Airport Commission continues to deliberate on the best option for the future of Britain’s airport capacity, Heathrow claims that public support for an additional runway is growing.
According to Heathrow’s holding company, which also operates airports in Southampton, Glasgow and Aberdeen, a new runway would allow the UK’s largest airport to increase flight capacity from the current 480,000 per year to 740,000 per year.
In terms of passenger numbers, it would mean that 130 million could utilise the services of the hub airport, compared to the 80 million expected to pass through this year.
John Holland-Kaye, chief executive of Heathrow, has revealed that the airport has set aside around £5 million for costs associated with the third runway bid this year.
He continues; “With the Airports Commission launching its national consultation on airport capacity expansion imminently, Heathrow expansion is increasingly being seen as not only the best option to keep Britain at the heart of the global economy, but also as politically deliverable, with growing support from local communities, politicians and businesses across the UK.”
The decision by the Airports Commission to scrap a proposal, backed heavily by London Mayor Boris Johnson, which would see a new airport constructed in the Thames Estuary has left Heathrow as the front runner in the race for airport space. However, Gatwick executives continue to maintain that an additional runway situated on its site would not only be more accessible for the entire country but would have less of an impact on the local community in terms of noise pollution, traffic congestion and environmental issues.
While Heathrow and Gatwick are undoubtedly the main contenders, there is a possibility that the Airports Commission could back a “wild card” proposal which has remained largely under the media radar.
Air capacity experts believe that this could come in the form of an additional runway at Birmingham Airport. With a larger site than either Heathrow or Gatwick, the likelihood of expansion is higher, and the upcoming HS2 rail link with London will provide a shorter journey to the capital.
But with Heathrow determined to keep spending on its bid, and having experienced an almost 1 million increase in passenger numbers during the first nine months of the year, it seems that the airport capacity question will continue to intensify in the months leading up to next May’s general election.
Do you think an expansion of Birmingham Airport could prove to be a viable option?