Would a new Thames Estuary airport be the best option for the whole UK?

Daniel Moylan, the mayor of London’s chief aviation adviser, says Yes.

For most UK regions, Heathrow is already supplanted by Amsterdam Schiphol as the principal hub airport. In 1990, 18 UK cities had daily flight connections to Heathrow. That has fallen to seven today.

Some say another Heathrow runway would bring better connectivity between London and the rest of the UK. But that assumes the new runway wouldn’t fill up with long-haul flights, keeping regional connections out.

If the UK’s regions are to prosper, they need access to an airport with enough capacity, something only a new four-runway hub near London can provide. Unless the Airports Commission grasps this, it risks turning its back on UK businesses that are being denied swift links to London and growth markets abroad.

It would put at risk the billions of pounds and thousands of jobs those links would provide. Only a new four-runway hub airport near the capital has the capacity to connect each nation and region of the UK to London and the rest of the world.

Jock Lowe, director of Runway Innovations and Heathrow Hub, says No.

The most obvious drawback of a Thames Estuary airport, as pointed out by Sir Howard Davies’s Airports Commission, is the massive cost, most of which would have to be funded by the taxpayer.
It’s also the least accessible option. For passengers from across the UK (even those from London), the Thames Estuary is difficult to get to.
As the Commission has made clear, it would also mean the closure of Heathrow and probably City and Southend Airports too, costing at least 100,000 jobs.
Further, the disruption to those living in the area surrounding the Isle of Grain, and to the economy of West London, Berkshire and Surrey, is simply too great to ignore.
Heathrow is the right choice for expansion. Operating at 98 per cent capacity, it’s the airport that passengers and airlines want to use. By extending the existing north runway and connecting the airport to the railway network, Heathrow Hub would deliver expansion faster and more cost-effectively than any other proposal.

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