“Only one option” for a hub airport in UK
10 June 2013
Businesses see Heathrow as the inevitable option for a UK hub airport but are getting fed up of too much procrastination and ludicrous alternatives delaying the decision. This is the view of Peter MacSwiney, chairman of freight industry supplier ASM.
"Heathrow is living on the reputation of ‘what it once was’ but the alternatives offer no real solution. It is possible to make a case, particularly as London Gateway gets closer to opening, for ‘Boris Island’ to become the UK’s freight hub. There’s a PR campaign for freight to go to Boris Island but it could take 25 years at least for the entire project to migrate from political pipe-dream to workable reality.
"Occasionally, Gatwick is put forward as an option but brief consultation shows the freight industry doesn’t want to use Gatwick. Considering other options, Stansted suffers from a limited labour pool, evidenced by the Border Force finding it hard to get staff, and Southend is too small and too far away. If you had a plain sheet of paper you’d probably locate a major hub airport in Birmingham, however despite its political unpopularity, Heathrow remains the prime contender.”
"There are now more flights into UK destinations from Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam than there are from London.”
To address the UK’s long-term aviation capacity needs, the Airports Commission, set up by the government in November 2012, created a panel of leading experts to examine the full range of relevant issues, including economic, social, environmental and operational factors.
MacSwiney continues: "In the seventies, Heathrow had more connections across the UK and Europe than any other European airport. Unfortunately, that is no longer true as repeated government indecision has allowed it to happen. The UK is no longer regarded as an international hub and many European airports have expanded ahead of any UK airport. For example, there are now more flights into UK destinations from Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam than there are from London.
"Politicians are petrified by the concept of demolishing homes around Heathrow to build another runway. However, consider the populations of Hounslow and Hillingdon, you would be hard-pressed to find many families not working in some shape or form with the airport. To offer them the potential for increased job opportunities while supporting them with beneficial compensation and relocation options has to be a sensible solution. Yet local councils continue to campaign against a third runway.”
"Politicians are petrified by the concept of demolishing homes around Heathrow to build another runway.”
"The terms of reference for the Airports Commission in looking at additional long term airport capacity includes the phrase ‘… recommendation(s) for the optimum approach to meeting any needs’. Those needs do not require identifying, they are here right now and if they are not addressed the UK’s airport capacity will continue to fall further behind its competitors.
"Unless we end up with some half-baked decision, the question must be: ‘Do we want Heathrow to be the hub it used to be?’ The answer for UK business must be yes.”