In three previous Blogs I have covered most of the headline issues that support the pro campaign. In a series of ‘The Problems’ I look at the arguements against an Airport.
Why do we need another airport?
- Playing Catch-up
- The UK needs more hub capacity to be competitive
- Need for more journey destinations
Since major airports were developed Heathrow Airport was one of the largest in the world in terms of runway and terminal capacity. But like many other transport innovations (e.g. Rail) the penalty for being the leader is that other countries learnt from the mistakes and built more efficient capacity. Now other airports in Europe are labelled as ‘competition’ and there is an implied need try and leap-frog them and build an even larger airport in the south-east of England near to London. Is the cost (capital and environmental) worth it for what may be a status/vanity project?
There is often an arguement that that the UK is losing out by not having sufficient capacity at its airports and especially HUB capacity where passengers interchange between flights to many destinations. In the case of hubs these passengers may not even leave the airport and arrive from other airports and fly onto other destinations – with an opportunity for retail during their stopover.
However is the environmental impact (especially noise and air pollution) of flights arriving and leaving worth the cost of these retail opportunities? What is the problem with hub capacity being shared between european countries. Often the passenger has benefitted on both cost and time by travelling via Schipol, Frankfurt or Paris airports. Why not use (at least the european) capacity that is already there rather that build massive new airports at massive additional cost?
In the previous consultation a series of documents looked at the future strategic strategy for aviation across the UK. There was an assumption that growth in air traffic would continue to grow at the same level as before, but even with a reduced rate of growth additional capacity would be needed. However since that review there has been a world-wide economic collapse with knock-on affects starting to be felt in China, Brazil and the emerging economies that are argued to be the drivers of more global travel. Much of the growth in recent years at Hub airports in Europe (and especially France) has been to countries in Africa that were former french colonies and there is no identified need for additional services from the UK. There is also the opportunity to make better use of what we have both in the UK and Europe. There is capacity available at Birmingham (to be linked with London via HS2 High Speed Rail) and other airports (branded London) such as Stansted, (post-2019) Gatwick and Luton. These are least cost options, and could easily be cutback if the projected rise in passenger numbers does not happen. What will be the long term affect of increased fuel prices and the downturn in the economy?
Next I will start to look at the specific issues affecting both a land based or island option in the Thames Estuary