The UK could lose its status as a major global aviation hub if Heathrow is not allowed to expand, according to the airport’s boss.
Colin Matthews, Heathrow’s chief executive, today (July 10) told the Airports Commission that the UK had “one last chance to keep its status as a leading international hub” which was to allow the capacity-constrained airport to expand.
The Airports Commission, which is chaired by Sir Howard Davies, was holding a public evidence session in London as part of its examination into whether the UK needs more hub capacity in the south-east of England.
Matthews said that Heathrow was already “under-performing in long-haul connectivity” based on the size of London’s population. He cited analysis from the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) which said that Heathrow could be operating to at least 20 extra long-haul destinations if capacity was increased at the airport.
“These straightened economic times have triggered a global economic race, with both companies and countries competing fiercely,” said Matthews.
“If the UK does not want to be left behind by its foreign rivals, it must have the connectivity to compete and trade on the world stage. That connectivity can only come from a single hub airport in the right place for taxpayers, passengers and business. Only Heathrow can meet all these demands.”
Matthews added that an expanded Heathrow could add 40 new long-haul destinations by 2030 “particularly to long-haul emerging market destinations that are important for economic growth”.
London's mayor Boris Johnson is one of the fiercest opponents of any further expansion at Heathrow and has instead made the case for a new four-runway hub airport in the Thames estuary.
The Airports Commission plans to hold further public evidence sessions in 2014 if its interim report, which is due to be published by the end of 2013, finds that more aviation capacity is needed in the UK.