London mayor Boris Johnson has backed plans for a new airport in south-east England.
He spoke as a report, which was overseen by Transport for London deputy chairman Daniel Moylan, said the failure to create a new hub airport in the region would see London suffer and lose jobs to its European competitors.
“For London to retain its position as the heartbeat of global business, we need aviation links that will allow us to compete with our rivals,” Mr Johnson said.
With the existing airport transfers system in place in the region, a new location could complete the network and give tourists more choice when picking the location of their overseas getaways.
High quality bus services between the airports, such as Luton to London and London to Stansted, might also remove the need for travellers to worry about leaving their car at the first airport they travel from.
Mr Johnson is understood to support a new airport in the Thames estuary but the coalition Government has ruled out new runways in south-east England.
The current report does not give specific information about a new site for the airport but a new report commissioned by Mr Johnson will consider the pros and cons of a number of locations for an additional airport.
This will include options for a new airport which could be in the Thames estuary, as well as consideration of existing sites with the exception of Heathrow.
Mr Johnson’s backing for expansion not only puts him at possible loggerheads with the Government but also with those opposing airport growth, including residents’ groups and conservationists.
The report revealed that in terms of destinations served by worldwide international airports, Heathrow had fallen from second in 1990 to seventh in 2010.
The number of destinations that can be directly accessed from Heathrow is now 157, compared with 224 from Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport and 235 from Frankfurt.
The report said this showed that London’s only hub airport was losing out to other European airports, which if sustained could have long-term damaging effects for the economies of London and the UK.
The report also said that an additional 85 million passengers a year or 564,000 annual flights could be generated at London’s airports within the environmental targets the Government has adopted.
It added that runway utilisation at Heathrow and Gatwick airports was operating at approximately 99%. This was causing delays and reliability problems. Heathrow is handling up to 75,000 more passengers a day than it was built for.
Runway utilisation was typically 70-75% at other major European hub airports.
Copyright Press Association 2011