URGENTLY needed expansion of London’s aviation capacity should be provided by existing airports such as Heathrow, the City of London Corporation said today.
Passenger demand will increase with economic recovery, it said, arguing that time is too short to wait for a new airport in the Thames estuary.
Mayor Boris Johnson favours the construction of a new airport in the south east.
“A new hub airport could offer a possible long-term solution but such a project would take decades to become fully operational,” said Stuart Fraser of the City of London Corporation.
“We are operating in a competitive market, where talented individuals and institutions are highly mobile,” he added. “London and the UK cannot afford to stand still while our rivals
across the globe are building for the future.”
At the 2007 peak, 140m passengers passed through London-serving airports. This fell to 130m in 2009 due to the effects of the recession, yet demand, particularly from businesses,
is set to rise this year.
“Most firms interviewed suggest that their demand for air travel has now returned to positive territory and further increases will be fuelled by business growth,” Fraser said.
Expansions to London City Airport, Stansted, and Gatwick should be considered alongside Heathrow, they said. The group admitted that this could involve “potentially unpopular decisions,” but argued that “limited connectivity, reduced service quality and price pressures” could undermine London’s competitive position.
However, the coalition government continues to oppose the construction of a third runway at Heathrow. “We have made clear that we do not support the construction of additional
runways at Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted,” a department for transport spokesperson said.