Despite Victoria Borwick’s defence of the “Heathwick” scheme on Friday [To keep the economy flying we need more air capacity], the idea is flawed in our view. British Airways already tried the idea of a dual hub a few years ago and it did not work, in part because connection times were uncompetitive compared to Paris Charles de Gaulle and Frankfurt. Even with a 15-minute, high-speed rail link, there is no way minimum connection times of 45 minutes could be achieved – as the world’s best hubs aim for on same-terminal connections.
The other logistical issue is baggage. This poses enough of a challenge for transfers between Terminal 5 and 3 at Heathrow, let alone a 35-mile connection. Our recommendation would be to introduce mixed mode (using both runways simultaneously) at Heathrow, which could increase capacity by 15 per cent at no extra capital cost. Then in 2019 a second runway could be built at Gatwick after the end of the planning moratorium. Longer-term, we think the solution is a new airport in the Thames estuary as championed by London’s mayor. Let us hope that the planning inquiry won’t take as long as Heathrow Terminal 5, which at eight years is a British record.
Geoff van Klaveren,
Deutsche Bank airlines analyst