Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Heathrow Airport "Will Close" If Not Expanded

A group supporting the expansion of London Heathrow Airport claim that if the airport's development does not happen, then in the future Heathrow could close.

Future Heathrow, a campaign group of aviation industry business supporting the government's proposals to expand Heathrow to include a third runway and sixth terminal, say that developing Heathrow is essential for the future economic good of London and the surrounding regions.

According to the group, the expansion proposals are so important that without them then the airport could one day close.

Lord Clive Soley of Hammersmith, director of Heathrow, said: "Unless we get permission for this runway we are stuck. Passenger numbers are stuck, destinations are going down and we will have to close Heathrow".

Soley claims that if Heathrow is not modernised, international companies in London will move to other European cities where capacity is available.

He claims the reason why Dell, the computer manufacturer, recently moved some operations from London to Frankfurt was because of the facilities and lack of capacity at Heathrow.

Soley said: "[Dell] understand. Most people think Heathrow is not up to standard...If things continue to decline [at Heathrow] all those people along the M4 will just do what Dell did, they will up and go because they know they have to be by a hub airport".
Heathrow Airport Expansion Economic Case

Future Heathrow believe this shows there is a strong economic case behind the development for Heathrow. They argue that 72,000 families are dependent on the airport for their livelihoods.

The group says that while the decision to develop Heathrow is being debated, Heathrow - and by extension the economy - is losing out to other European cities.

Saying that Heathrow was "a dying star" in European air travel terms, Soley argued: "Having a hub is important, all major cities have hubs. People come to London to invest but Heathrow is in decline...Amsterdam, Paris, Milan, Madrid - they are all ahead of us".

Soley claims that people accept that Heathrow is good for the economy even if they are against the development for environmental or noise reasons.

"[People] know the airport brings prosperity. They are not simplistically against Heathrow...they know it is the goose that laid the golden egg," he said.

Future Heathrow believe any environmental impact of future development at Heathrow would be offset by the fact that a new generation of more fuel-efficient airliners are now coming into service.
Heathrow Expansion Benefits "Fundamentally Flawed"

Future Heathrow's claims came as those groups opposed to Heathrow development argued that the economic benefits for expansion were "fundamentally flawed".

Anti-expansion group Hacan said a report they commissioned from Dutch consultancy CE Delft shows that the economic case for Heathrow's development had been overstated by the government when it launched the expansion proposals last November.

The report claimed the government's estimate on the economic benefits of Heathrow expansion - some £5 billion ($9.8 billion) per year - had been over-estimated.

John Stewart, Hacan chairman, said their research shows "that the economic benefits of expanding Heathrow would be negligable" against the costs involved.

Stephen Norris, a former Conservative transport minister and candidate for the Mayor of London, supported Hacan's claims.

Norris said: "We are often told that a third runway is essential for the capital's economy. But this report shows those benefits have been overstated by the Government and the aviation lobby".

"It seems that the [government's] report is fundamentally flawed and that by relying on it [they] are misleading us over the need for a third runway at Heathrow," he said.

The strong words used by these groups differing in their views on the further development of Heathrow shows the level of feeling that has developed around the issue.

The three-month public consultation into the government's proposals is due to close on February 27th.

Source - Airport International's London Reporter

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