Heathrow and Gatwick CEOs both say their runway campaigns will go on, whatever Commission recommends
The CEOs of Heathrow and Gatwick both say they will continue their campaigns for expansion, whatever the Airports Commission recommends (next week?). Holland-Kaye is trying to make out that Heathrow’s plans for a 3rd runway had been so substantially altered since David Cameron blocked them in 2010 that “the prime minister could defend a decision to change his mind.” (The changes are small – different location, better compensation offers, more attempts to overcome local opposition … same need to destroy communities, make areas almost uninhabitable, immense increase in noise and air pollution etc etc). Gatwick keep attempting to persuade people their runway is more deliverable than Heathrow’s. Both fear the report ending up on a shelf, gathering dust. Heathrow expansion is environmentally and politically just about impossible, but it is what the airlines, the industry and its backers want. Holland-Kaye said Heathrow would not give up pressing for another runway even if the Commission recommends Gatwick. “It’s not a binding report … we’d have to wait and see. A decision hasn’t been made and to some extent the campaigns will keep on going.” As one commentator remarked: “… the most likely final resting place for Sir Howard’s report is a dusty shelf, somewhere in Whitehall.”
Davies report won’t stop our campaigns, say Heathrow and Gatwick chiefs
Airport bosses vow to keep pushing for their expansion plans, no matter what commission set up by David Cameron decides
By Gwyn Topham, Transport correspondent (Guardian)
The bosses of Heathrow and Gatwick airports say they will continue their campaigns for expansion, whatever the outcome of a long-awaited report on the future of air travel around London.
Heathrow’s chief executive said its plans for a third runway had been so substantially altered since David Cameron blocked them in 2010 that the prime minister could defend a decision to change his mind.
But Gatwick’s boss said he believed the airports commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, would favour his plans because they were more easily delivered than those of Heathrow, which are bedevilled by strong political and community opposition.
“People are starting to major on deliverablity,” said Stewart Wingate, the Gatwick chief executive. “We’re expecting that Davies, rather than making the same mistake as in the past, which saw a report gathering dust, will choose the only deliverable option.”
Both said they would continue their campaigns after publication of the commission’s report, which is expected next week. Expansion at the west London hub is favoured by most airlines but is politically fraught. Cameron personally made an unequivocal pledge to stop the third runway going ahead, overturning planning permission in 2010.
John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow’s chief executive, said the plans had completely changed since then, with the new proposal designed around sustainability, noise and air quality targets.
“We’ve changed our plans to meet the concerns of politicians. This is such a different plan, politicians can get behind it. When the facts change, politicians are entitled to take a different position,” he said.
Holland-Kaye said the company had listened to the concerns of Cameron, as well as those of London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, and would now invest hundreds of millions of pounds in improved insulation for local residents and cutting emissions, as well as limiting the effects of noise by building the runway further west.
Despite the launch of a renewed campaign of opposition by prominent Conservatives including Justine Greening and Zac Goldsmith, Holland-Kaye said he was “not particularly worried. We always knew where people like that would stand and they’d use their power to oppose the issue”.
He said support had come from businesses and politicians around Britain, including some Labour contenders for mayor of London. “We’ve never been in this position before,” he said.
Holland-Kaye added that Heathrow would not give up its campaign for another runway even if the commission prefers Gatwick. “It’s not a binding report … we’d have to wait and see. A decision hasn’t been made and to some extent the campaigns will keep on going.
“The problem won’t go away, the issue of getting to growth markets will still exist. Expanding Gatwick won’t change that. All that will happen is that other hub airports in Europe will get our growth.”
Gatwick pointed to changing plane technology and the growth of low-cost long-haul to support its case that future flights will be point to point. Annual financial results revealed on Thursday showed a 7% growth in passengers, with more than 40 million people forecast to fly through the airport this year.
The Heathrow boss Holland-Kaye claimed that a runway would deliver 180,000 jobs and £211bn – the top end of figures cited by the commission – and was confident that the verdict would go his way when Davies reports. “We know that he’s bold and he’s logical and he will recommend what he sees to be right – if you want to be connected to all the markets in the world, it’s got to be Heathrow.”
But Wingate countered: “You only get the economic benefits if it gets built. If Davies says Heathrow, it’ll be a travesty for the UK – it simply won’t happen. History tells us that no matter how many times we go down this route, it won’t happen.”
The commission led by Davies was established by the prime minister in 2012 to examine the need for additional airport capacity in south-east England, with a brief to report after this year’s general election. It has shortlisted two proposals at Heathrow, the airport’s own and another plan from the Heathrow Hub group to lengthen an existing runway, as well as Gatwick’s proposal for a second runway.
“But as we have seen before, the most likely final resting place for Sir Howard’s report is a dusty shelf, somewhere in Whitehall.”
Philip Johnston, Telegraph. Link