Aviation bosses set out their stalls for London expansion

Marion Dakers
TRANSPORT bosses locked horns over how to provide London with more flights yesterday, as rival firms ramp up campaigns aimed at the coalition’s Davies Commission on the future of air travel.

Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate said his firm will propose to Davies that the UK should allow a new runway each at Gatwick and Stansted, enabling them to compete with Heathrow.

“Not only will you support the vast majority of the connectivity requirements for London and avoid the need for a hub airport, but to boot you will also spread the economic benefits that are driven by the airports around the city, and also distribute the environmental impact caused by aviation,” he told the London Assembly.

Wingate and EasyJet’s UK commercial manager Hugh Aitken argued that existing airports could create capacity almost immediately.

“We find it surprising that British Airways is starting flights out of Heathrow to Alicante and Ibiza this summer. That’s not effectively using the hub capacity you have, flying to places that frankly should be point to point out of other airports,” said Aitken.

But Heathrow director of public policy Nigel Milton said that a well-connected hub airport is the only way forward. “All of the evidence shows that the lack of hub capacity in London is harming the UK today,” he said, claiming Heathrow has lost routes to Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Paris.

Davies’ panel will spend the next few months taking submissions, but will not report until 2015.