The Heathrow debate. Again!

By | Category: Travel news
panoramic view of Heathrow

Heathrow showing, to the north, where a new runway might go

Bored readers turn away now. Yesterday the government announced that it would re-open the consultation period on airport expansion in the south east of England to last until December.


Last month it announced that there was new evidence unavailable during the initial consultation process that ended in May. Primarily this evidence is a new forecast of aviation demand for the south east showing that capacity would be reached earlier than thought and a need to take into account the government’s national air quality plan which it announced last July.

The aviation forecast – all 149 pages of it – was only published yesterday. It says that “adding a new runway at either Gatwick or Heathrow facilitates faster national growth.” And that passenger growth outside London will continue to grow.

I have to confess that I haven’t read the whole document yet (I plead time constraints for this update in JaT) but I see no forecast of the impact of Brexit which might alter these figures one way or the other. The report does point out the problems forecasting as far ahead as 2050. It also looks at the growth in CO2 emissions but plane makers are making planes ever more fuel efficient. We might have electric powered planes by 2050 or solar powered ones. Look at the changes in aircraft development between 1920 and 1950 which went from biplanes to jets. The thirty years up until 2050 might bring similar developments such as vertical take-off planes that require less airport space.

Forget the long term forecast; what is likely to happen over the next ten years? Demand will probably still increase in the south east as will demand elsewhere in our countries. But time and time again, international airlines have pulled out of long-haul flights from the regions due to it being unviable. The main long-haul airlines operating from regional airports are Middle Eastern ones and only they know how viable the routes are to them but when I have travelled on regional flights to hub in the Middle East before an onward flight, the aircraft hads been less than half full.

We will now have another couple of months of arguments with exaggerated claims by different sides.

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