The Airports Commission’s independent review into UK airport capacity and connectivity Airports Commission’s interim report concluded that there is a need for one net additional runway to be in operation in the south east by 2030. There is likely to be a demand case for a second additional runway to be operational during the 2040s. These conclusions reflect assumptions about future demand growth, and are consistent with the Committee of Climate Change’s advice to government on meeting its legislated climate change targets.
The Air League has long argued that Heathrow is the only practicable site for the UK hub airport and while the Commission will continue to examine the Thames Estuary options, Sir Howard’s team effectively holed ‘Boris Island’ etc. below the waterline when they reported that these would cost up to £112bn. The airlines would pay for Heathrow expansion – the taxpayer would have to pick up such a tab for an Estuary option, which would make ministers blanch in the current economic climate.
The Report outlined detailed study proposals for new runways at two locations:
- Gatwick Airport
- Gatwick Airport Ltd’s proposal for a new runway to the south of the existing runway
- Heathrow Airport (two options)
- Heathrow Airport Ltd’s proposal for one new 3,500m runway to the northwest
- Heathrow Hub’s proposal to extend the existing northern runway to at least 6,000m, enabling the extended runway to operate as 2 independent runways.
The next phase of its work will see the Commission undertaking a detailed appraisal of these three options before a public consultation in autumn 2014.
The Commission has not shortlisted proposals for expansion at Stansted or Birmingham: there is likely to be a case for considering them as potential options for any second new runway by 2050. In its final report the Commission will set out its recommendations on the process for decision making on additional capacity beyond 2030.
The report endorsed recommendations that the Air League has made to improve the use of existing runway capacity, including
- an ‘optimisation strategy’ to improve the operational efficiency of UK airports and airspace, including
- airport collaborative decision making
- airspace changes supporting performance based navigation
- enhanced en-route traffic management to drive tighter adherence to schedules
- time based separation
- a package of surface transport improvements to make airports with spare capacity more attractive to airlines and passengers, including
- the enhancement of Gatwick Airport Station
- further work to develop a strategy for enhancing Gatwick’s road and rail access
- work on developing proposals to improve the rail link between London and Stansted
- work to provide rail access into Heathrow from the south
- the provision of smart ticketing facilities at airport stations
- trials at Heathrow of measures to smooth the early morning arrival schedule to minimise stacking and delays and to provide more predictable respite for local people
The Commission shrewdly recommended the establishment of an Independent Noise Authority to provide expert and impartial advice about the noise impacts of aviation and to facilitate the delivery of future improvements to airspace operations.
Overall, the Commission is to be applauded for taking a fresh, comprehensive and transparent study of the issues. The Air League takes issue with the Commission’s statement that “the UK enjoys excellent connectivity today” – a Far Eastern entrepreneur flying into Heathrow would not be able to fly-on to Inverness, Newquay, Prestwick, Humberside, Teesside or Liverpool. However, while the capacity challenge is not yet critical, the Commission is right to note that it will become so if no action is taken soon and no net additional runway is provided by 2030.
The Air League encourages the government to act on the Interim Report’s recommendations to make the best of the UK’s existing airport capacity. Without such action, there will only be adverse impacts resilience, connectivity, economic growth and passenger experience. As a global hub and economic engine for growth, UK plc. deserves nothing less.
Our annual Gliding Scholarship competition is now OPEN! Apply Now for your chance to win cross-country gliding, aerobatic gliding or SLMG flying tuition at a range of civilian gliding clubs in the UK
The Directors want to encourage enthusiastic young people to consider careers as engineers in the UK aerospace industry. To achieve this, scholarships are offered where you will:
- spend time with an aircraft operator or manufacturer. It could range from an airline to a flying club, from an aircraft manufacturer to a component manufacturer.
- work with experienced maintenance personnel on operational aircraft, engines, systems or equipment.
- have a chance to impress a potential employer.
- gain valuable experience for your CV.
These annual awards are intended to give our already budding pilots the opportunity to push themselves further – so why not apply and give that tail-wheel rating a shot, or pick up some advanced flying skills with some aerobatics?
Please read all the conditions before applying via the link at the bottom of this post!