Heathrow 3rd runway decision criticised by Monarch airline boss
The managing director of Monarch Airlines has denounced plans to expand Heathrow
Airport due to the environmental impact on homes in west London.
by Oliver Smith
A leading British airline has criticised the Government’s decision to build a
third runway at Heathrow.
Tim Jeans, managing director of Monarch Airlines, said that the expansion of
the airport would have a detrimental impact on the lives of a million people living
in west London, and would prevent the aviation industry from being taken seriously
over environmental issues.
He added that the Government’s reliance on new technology to reduce emissions
was “highly optimistic”.
The £9 billion extension of Heathrow was given the go-ahead last week, despite
strong environmental objections.
Alhough legal challenges could hamper the completion of a third runway – and
a sixth terminal – the decision has given the green light to at least 125,000
more flights to and from Heathrow each year.
“British Airways and the other airlines with vested interests have built an effective
lobby in favour of expansion at Heathrow,” said Mr Jeans. “But the decision to
increase capacity will affect countless people living under the flight path.”
Mr Jeans added that, though he believed aviation would continue to grow in the
coming years, the move would set a precedent that could turn people against airlines.
“Environmental considerations must be taken seriously and decisions which may
seem unpalatable for business need to be taken,” he said.
“Due to bilateral restrictions on international flights, BA have a monopoly on
departures from Britain – approval for such plans should be given by an independent
body, not the Government.”
The Labour government has been criticised by some media commentators for siding
with the pro-expansion lobby despite reservations within its own party.
Mr Jeans said that expansion at Gatwick – not possible until at least 2019 due
to a legal agreement with West Sussex County Council – or the growth of regional
airports would be preferable, due to a reduced environmental impact on nearby
Should expansion take place at Gatwick, around 300 homes would be demolished
– far less than at Heathrow, where in the village of Sipson alone 700 houses are
under threat. [590 in Sipson, 110 in Harmondsworth].
Furthermore, five times fewer homes would be affected by aircraft noise greater
than 54 decibels.
However, Mr Jeans’s enthusiasm for Gatwick as an alternative should be tempered
by the fact that the airport is Monarch’s main base.
Mr Jeans has also cast doubt on the Government’s claim that new technology and
more environmentally-friendly fuels would mean that aircraft will emit 50% less
carbon dioxide than current planes by 2020.
“If you talk to people in the industry, they will tell you that the physics of
jet propulsion will not allow for any more significant developments to aircraft,”
said Mr Jeans. “A reduction in fuel consumption is not likely as after the Dreamliner
(Boeing’s oft-delayed 787) there are no new narrow-bodied aircraft in development.”