HACAN welcomes Willie Walsh’s recognition that a 3rd runway at Heathrow is off the agenda
HACAN has welcomed the recognition by British Airways chief Willie Walsh that a 3rd runway is off the agenda at Heathrow. Walsh also ruled out mixed-mode which he said would make the situation at the airport worse. Speaking in a debate organized by the Evening Standard in Central London last night Walsh admitted that, while he had supported a 3rd runway, he now recognized that it would not be built. He said that decisions about his business were now being made on that assumption. He cited, for example, that BAA had acquired BMI in order to get more landing slots at Heathrow. HACAN applauds Willie Walsh’s honesty. When a straw poll was taken at the end of the debate a large majority of the audience voted against a 3rd runway.
HACAN, representing residents under the Heathrow flights, has welcomed the recognition by British Airways chief Willie Walsh that a third runway is off the agenda at Heathrow. Walsh also ruled out mixed-mode which he said would make the situation at the airport worse (1).
Speaking in a debate organized by the Evening Standard in Central London last night (2) Walsh admitted that, while he had supported a third runway, he now recognized that it would not be built. He said that decisions about his business were now being made on that assumption. He cited, for example, that BAA had acquired BMI in order to get more landing slots at Heathrow.
HACAN Chair John Stewart, said, “We applaud Willie Walsh’s honesty. We wait for the rest of the aviation industry to wake up to reality and start to engage in a constructive debate about the future of aviation in the UK.”
When a straw poll was taken at the end of the debate a large majority of the audience voted against a 3rd runway at Heathrow.
(1). Currently planes landing at Heathrow over West London switch runways at 3pm to give people a half days break from the noise. Under mixed-mode planes would land on both runways at the same time.
(2). The debate took place on the evening 27th June. Report on the Evening Standard’s Great Heathrow debate
Willie Walsh said:
The IAG chief executive said: “I was disappointed with the Conservative decision to oppose the third runway, but I accept the decision. However, there is no plan B.
“A third runway should have been built, but it won’t so I can’t waste time. We bought BMI to give us the opportunity to fly to some of the routes [we had not been able to].”
Walsh told the audience of several hundred: “I don’t believe Boris Island will be built. You can have an airport where you like; if you don’t have airlines there, it won’t happen. In 2050, BA will be flying from Heathrow.”
Told that flying between Manchester and London wastes capacity at Heathrow, Walsh said: “If high-speed rail connected Manchester and London, I wouldn’t fly to Manchester. People fly from Manchester to Heathrow because they are connecting to flights.”
He also said: “I hear more argument in favour of a third runway since I said I was not going to campaign for it. So I’m going to carry on saying that and we might see it built.”
And a bit of a date with history, below, from three and a half years ago:
Decision time nears for third Heathrow runway
2.12.2008 (Financial Times)
By Jim Pickard in London
The government is expected to give the go-ahead for a new runway at Heathrow within days, despite last-ditch protests by environmental campaigners. The imminent decision comes amid business complaints about the lack of capacity. A 3rd runway would increase its flights by nearly a half, according to BAA. Expansion is bitterly opposed by thousands of west London residents, who resent the congestion, noise and disturbance caused by the sprawling airport. (FT)
The British government is expected to give the go-ahead for a new runway at Heathrow
within days, despite last-ditch protests by environmental campaigners.
The imminent decision comes amid business complaints about the lack of capacity
at the west London site.
A third runway would increase its flights by nearly a half, according to Heathrow’s
Spanish owner BAA.
Expansion is bitterly opposed by thousands of west London residents, who resent
the congestion, noise and disturbance caused by the sprawling airport. It has
also been the subject of a high-profile campaign by environmental groups – including
protesters who recently scaled the walls of Britain’s parliament to hang a banner
– opposed to higher greenhouse gas emissions.
Ministers say they are keeping an open mind and have not yet taken a final decision
on the third runway. But Geoff Hoon, transport secretary, has argued strongly
that the extra infrastructure is sorely needed.
Politicians from across the political divide are trying to force a last-minute
rethink. Not only have 140 [167 actually] members of parliament signed a motion
[ EDM 2344 ]- calling for ministers to reject the plans but the government also faced a
storm of protest during a debate in the House of Commons last month.
Rob Wilson, MP for East Reading, a town several miles from Heathrow, described
the skies above it as “a blizzard of low-flying aircraft”.
“More and more people . . . will be under Heathrow’s flight paths, and the effects
will be intolerable,” he said. “We all know the south of England is increasingly
overcrowded . . . Any expansion of Heathrow will make matters much worse.”
Gordon Brown, prime minister, recently met local MPs from his own Labour party
to hear their concerns. Many fear that they will pay for the government’s backing
of the project at the ballot box in the next general election.
The opposition Conservative party says the government should reject the project
because of concerns that it will breach European directives on air quality and
Officials have modelled a scenario that sees an expanded Heathrow meeting environmental limits thanks to ultra-green aircraft. But the technology has not been developed
Some MPs – including a handful of senior cabinet ministers – believe the project
will make a mockery of the government’s ambitious new target of cutting greenhouse
gases by 80 per cent by 2050.
Others argue the recession will prompt a fall in passenger numbers, rendering
the extra capacity unnecessary.
The Conservatives have urged a policy of scrapping the third runway in favour
of fast rail links to the north, which has not gone down well with some business
Mr Hoon dismisses this as a red herring, suggesting Heathrow would still be operating
at 97 per cent of its capacity even if new high-speed rail services were introduced.
The third runway, which would take flights from 480,000 a year to more than 700,000,
is needed in the medium term even if the economy shrinks for the next few years,
Mr Hoon has said.
He has portrayed a future where Heathrow would lose passengers to Amsterdam,
Paris or Frankfurt – threatening thousands of jobs – unless it increased capacity.
The airport already offers fewer destinations than these continental rivals –
but some believe this is not a capacity issue but because airlines have cherry-picked
the most profitable routes.
It has long been assumed that the UK economy benefits from Heathrow’s status
as a hub for passengers travelling between continental Europe and the rest of
the world but opponents say the net benefits are little more than the price of
a cup of coffee per passenger.
However, the aviation industry, led by BAA and British Airways, the biggest operator at Heathrow, claim that transfer passengers are crucial.
Without them, the scale of the network and range of destinations and the number
of daily services that could be supported on individual routes would suffer.