”A new approach” to discussing Heathrow”s future should focus on turning it into an intermodal hub with better rail links.
Future Heathrow campaign director Lord Soley made clear in a speech to the Royal Aeronautical Society today (24 April) that building a new hub airport in the Thames estuary is a bad idea that has been rejected after careful consideration.
”We have an opportunity to show that a modernised and expanded Heathrow can be developed as an intermodal hub as has already happened in Europe,” he said. ”Rail and air may compete but they are also complementary if provided in a way that allows the passengers a choice that fits their needs.”
Soley argued that using other London airports or rail as alternatives to expansion was not the answer to creating extra capacity in the south east, and would drive customers to rival continental hubs.
”More than 40% of the passengers flying from Manchester to Heathrow are transferring to international flights and around 30% from Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow. Do we really think these passengers are going to get the train to London, take their luggage on the tube before checking in to their onward flight at Heathrow?
”A hub airport is not just a destination airport, they are like the great railways stations of the 19th century where people would catch connecting services to other local destinations. Those networks did for the British economy what the great hub airports do for the emerging global economy and do now for the European economy.”
Heathrow”s network has already shrunk by around 20% since 1990 to 180 destinations, while the large hubs in Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam all offer in excess of 200.
”Frankfurt can fly passengers to 307 and [it lies] at the heart of the emerging European market of 600m people,” said Soley. ”They have a dynamic and expanding financial sector which also contains the European Bank. Can we really allow the future of Heathrow to drift any further into decline?”
And those in favour of closing Heathrow seriously underestimated the cost and environmental impact of creating another hub elsewhere ” ”There are 72,000 jobs on Heathrow airport and another 100,000 dependent on it in the Thames Valley and west London area,” continued Soley. ”Where are the houses, schools, hospitals road and rail system to go if we build a new hub airport in the south east?”
”Local opponents of a third runway share my concern that Heathrow must not close. We need a new approach between local councils, local groups, the airport, trade unions and industry.”