Saturday 16 December 2017

Heathrow in runway battle with Gatwick

Heathrow battle with Gatwick for expansion now in full flight
Heathrow battle with Gatwick for expansion now in full flight

Kari Lundgren and Chris Jasper

London's Heathrow Airport outlined revised plans for a new runway it said will create 100,000 jobs and add £100bn (€123bn) to the UK economy as rival Gatwick restated its case for getting the landing strip.

A third runway at Heathrow would open up 40 new routes and serve the whole UK due to its geographical location and links to railway lines including High Speed 2, the airport said. The updated plans move the new strip south, affecting 200 fewer houses and maintaining highway layouts.

Both Heathrow and Gatwick were identified in December as the possible focus of additional runway capacity in preliminary findings of a state-appointed commission.

Heathrow said its proposals for a 2.2-mile landing strip west of existing terminals could be delivered by 2025 for about £15.6bn. Gatwick, which has one runway, said its plan would result in 10 million more passengers, five years sooner.

"Heathrow and Gatwick do completely different things," Heathrow chief executive Colin Matthews said at a press conference. "But when it comes to global reach, Heathrow is simply streets ahead."

Additional capacity at Heathrow would boost long-haul connections from the hub by almost 50pc to 122 routes and keep Heathrow ahead of its European rivals, allowing 740,000 flights annually, 40,000 more than Paris Charles de Gaulle and Frankfurt airports, the executive said.

"Any destination that can be served by expanding Heathrow can be served from the London system if you expand Gatwick," Gatwick chief financial officer Nick Dunn countered.

"Our biggest trading partner, which is Europe, will continue to be where the lion's share of UK traffic travels too and from."

A two-runway Gatwick would deliver £40bn more in economic benefits and create 120,000 jobs, Gatwick claimed.

Aircraft noise, one of the primary concerns London residents have about expanding local airports, would affect just 14,000 people, versus 240,000 impacted today at Heathrow, which is closer to the city, Gatwick added.

"Why would you choose to fly a quarter of a million more planes every year over one of the world's most densely populated cities when instead you can fly them mostly over fields?" Gatwick CEO Stewart Wingate said.

The land needed for a second landing strip at Gatwick was set aside about 10 years ago and is mostly agricultural, Mr Dunn said, and unlike Heathrow no major roads would need to be moved, making the physical construction simpler and cheaper.

Irish Independent

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