The measures, conditional on expansion, include a £10 million Heathrow Route Development Fund which aims to boost connectivity on domestic routes from Heathrow.
The changes will be partly funded by airport charges, which will be reviewed as Heathrow aims to keep certain domestic services “commercially attractive” to airlines from January 2016. [Why that date??]
The measures follow commitments made by the National Connectivity Task Force, set up in May 2014, with a remit to recommend how connectivity between the UK’s nations and regions and the major airports in the south east can be enhanced.
Four new routes outlined by Heathrow have already been earmarked by Easyjet – Inverness, Belfast International, Isle of Man and Jersey. Earlier this year Easyjet backed the airport for expansion over Gatwick.
Heathrow said the other three airports which could benefit from the Development Fund are Liverpool, Newquay and Humberside.
Flybe CEO Saad Hammad welcomed the announcement stating the national hub must address the needs of the whole country not “just those living within the M25”.
“Flybe welcomes the commitment of Heathrow to enhance regional connectivity both within current runway capacity constraints and in the event of new runway development.
“Key to this is an airport pricing regime that encourages regional connectivity alongside guaranteed slot availability for regional connecting services. We are delighted that Heathrow has listened to the issues faced by the UK regions and is taking practical steps to be more inclusive.”
Regional airport access must be priority in runway decision
Regional airport access for the entire UK must be a key consideration for the Airports Commission when the decision on future runway capacity in the south east is decided this summer, a task force has said.
The National Connectivity Task Force announced its findings in a report entitled “Air Connectivity Matters – Linking the Nations and Regions of Britain to London and the World”.
London Heathrow suggested setting up the task force in its submission to the Airports Commission in May last year.
However, chair Lord John Shipley insisted the task force was completely independent as no member was paid and it reported directly to the commission.
Addressing an audience of policy-makers, aviation and travel industry representatives and regional and business leaders in London yesterday, Shipley said the runway decision represents a “major rethink” of policy which has “prioritised international air access” over domestic services to Gatwick and Heathrow.
“The effect of the repeated failure of government to make strategically important decisions about runway capacity in the south east over the last quarter of a century and then see them through, is a heavily congested and impaired market which forces UK regions to rely on overseas hubs for their global connectivity.
“The existing UK policy can no longer be defended when there is the prospect of over 250,000 additional take-off and landing slots being released when a new runway opens. Moreover, a failure to act now and adopt some relatively straightforward and low cost interim solutions, would be completely at odds with broader government policy priorities on economic growth and rebalancing,” he added.
However, Gatwick airport, which is campaigning for a second runway and is in opposition to LHR’s desire for a third runway, today claimed the report was biased.
A statement from LGW described it as “an exercise in manufacturing an outcome to support Heathrow’s third runway ambitions”.
The Task Force was established last autumn to focus on the case for enhanced regional air connectivity.
Heathrow in hub pledge to Liverpool John Lennon Airport
By Neil Hodgson (Liverpool Echo)
Charges review and support package could see new link for city by 2016
Liverpool John Lennon Airport (LJLA) could be linked to Heathrow, the UK’s main hub airport, from next year.
A hub link, allowing business and leisure passengers to access global flights through a Heathrow link, could provide a huge boost to the Merseyside economy.
The London airport has announced a new package of commitments linked to its plans for expansion.
These include a review of its charges for domestic routes, to be implemented in January 2016.
And it said if it gets the green light to expand capacity it would launch a £10m route development fund to provide start-up support for five new routes between airports like LJLA and Heathrow, where needed, to encourage airlines to set up links.
Because Heathrow has been full for the past 10 years many airlines have been forced to use available capacity for their long-haul flights, at the expense of domestic routes.
As a result, the number of regional connections from Heathrow has fallen from 18 in 1990 to just seven today.
Liverpool’s connection to Heathrow was cancelled more than two decades ago.
As part of its commitment to encourage more domestic links, Heathrow has also pledged to partner with UK airports, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), chambers of commerce, and national and regional governments to jointly approach airlines to establish new domestic routes through Heathrow.
Business and political leaders across Liverpool are backing Heathrow’s plans for expansion.
They include Andrew Cornish, LJLA chief executive, Merseytravel chief executive David Brown, Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson MP and chair of the Transport Select Committee Louise Ellman, and fellow Labour MP George Howarth.
Independent research by Quod, commissioned by Heathrow, and based on economic analysis by the Airports Commission, shows how an expanded Heathrow will benefit the North West, with the region expected to receive up to £12.5bn in economic growth and 15,300 new jobs.
Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “We’re ready to connect Liverpool to global growth.
“We have been listening to businesses, politicians and now to the National Connectivity Task Force, and today’s announcement shows that we have a plan to deliver what Britain needs.“
LJLA chief executive Andrew Cornish said: “For too long Liverpool has been cut off from the nation’s hub airport.
“Expansion at Heathrow, alongside the commitments that have been made today, will boost our chances of securing a vital link through Heathrow to emerging and established growth markets around the world.
“Airports are key economic drivers for the UK’s regions and it’s time we were given permission to unleash our full potential.
“An expanded Heathrow will mean more jobs and stronger growth for Liverpool and its surrounds and ensure our community is connected to opportunities around the world.”
And Liverpool & Sefton Chambers of Commerce chief executive Jenny Stewart, who sat on the National Connectivity Task Force, added: “Expansion at Heathrow would give investors around the world the chance to access Liverpool and strengthen our businesses ability to compete for global growth.
“This plan could deliver more jobs for our region, boost our economy and ensure Liverpool continues to grow as an attractive place to live and work.”