Heathrow and Gatwick make case for space

Marion Dakers
HEATHROW and Gatwick will this week set out their final cases for an extra runway, ahead of a government decision next year on the venue for new airport capacity in Britain.

Heathrow’s outgoing boss Colin Matthews and new chief John Holland-Kaye are expected to outline why the airport’s own plan for a runway to the north west of the existing site trumps an alternative Heathrow Hub proposal put forward by aviation veterans.

The government’s airports commission, led by Sir Howard Davies, issued a shortlist in December that included the Heathrow Hub plan, which would extend one of the existing runways, as well as additional runway proposals from Heathrow and Gatwick.

Last week, Heathrow said it was weighing up a congestion charge for passengers who travel to the airport by car, as part of its efforts to lower the environmental effect of expansion.

Fewer than four in 10 customers use public transport to get to Heathrow, a figure the airport wants to increase to more than 50 per cent by 2030 if it gets the go-ahead for a third runway.

Heathrow’s current north-west runway proposal requires construction over the top of the M25 – though reports suggest the airport’s latest plan will scale back disruption to the motorway.

Meanwhile, Gatwick is tomorrow expected to unveil its own updated runway scheme, which it claims will better cater for the rapid rise in affordable air travel than Heathrow.

The Davies commission is due to make a final recommendation on airport capacity to the new government after the 2015 general election.

The panel is still considering whether to include a new hub in the Thames Estuary on its shortlist. The concept has been backed by Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, who last week hired three architecture firms to work on plans for housing developments on the current site of Heathrow.