Avoiding a catastrophic situation

By | Category: Travel news, Travel rumblings

Yesterday the CEO of Qatar Airways, Akbar Al Baker, said that the government needed to look at Heathrow’s capacity or there would be a ‘catastrophic situation.’ It was a necessity he said.
He added,”…no capacity increase will inevitably lead to further economic hardship with job losses and businesses closing down.”
Before we all wring our collective hands, bemoan the horrible fate that awaits us all – yes, those outside the south east as well – and pull the duvet over our heads, consider two other announcements made yesterday. Manchester Airport Group broke one of the worst kept secrets by announcing that it was going to bid for Stansted and Gatwick said that it was looking at a second runway.
There is capacity of about 11 million at Gatwick even before a new runway is considered and Stansted has been losing passengers as I mentioned last week. For us passengers – wherever we live on the mainland – we will use a local airport if it provides the flights we want.
The argument is not about us British passengers it is really about those passengers that fly into an airport so that they can fly elsewhere – a hub airport which is what Heathrow is. It is about overseas passengers who just use Heathrow as an interchange, as a place to get off one flight and switch to another. Because not every country can afford – or wants – to fly everywhere, their flights connect at a larger airport and another airline takes the onward passengers. Amsterdam, Paris and Frankfurt are the big providers of this type of airport in Europe along with the biggest – Heathrow. Mr Al Baker is really only talking about this type of service. And so are the airline bosses.
Should that interest us mere mortals? From a jobs, disruption to local residents and economic development point-of-view, yes it should. What the government and the Civil Aviation Authority might usefully do is to see whether the UK can run an effective hub idea out of the resources we currently have by investigating where those that hub at Heathrow go next. If, for example, most coming from Australian go to Europe, determine whether all Australian flights can go into Gatwick and sufficient connecting flights into Europe can go there. What must be avoided at all costs is bussing people around the M25.
It surely cannot be beyond the whit of “experts” to look at the suggestion – and all the others – rather than us getting bulldozed into thinking that Heathrow is the “be all-end all.”

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