Gatwick and Heathrow attack each other in row over hub airport status, new runways and flights to Far East

Heathrow and Gatwick have given evidence to the Commons Transport Committee. Colin Matthews for Heathrow said Heathrow should be the single hub, and needs a 3rd runway.  Stewart Wingate, Gatwick chief executive, said he would oppose a 3rd runway at Heathrow and wanted to see Gatwick develop as a competing hub airport. Gatwick announced plans to connect low-cost domestic and European flights  to long-haul services, to the Far East or USA, with improved baggage transfer, to take on Heathow’s hub airport model.  Mr Wingate also proposed London should be served by three 2-runway airports, with both Gatwick and Stansted getting an extra runway, instead of Heathrow getting a 3rd.  He rejected suggestions that the South East was facing an airport crisis and said: “There’s a lot of capacity in the system. The challenge is how to make better use of it in the short term.”  As well as representatives from the 4 main London airports giving evidence, there were also anti-expansion campaigners. EasyJet said “The importance of the hub airport has been massively overstated.”

And you can watch the Commons Transport Committee session at


Gatwick and Heathrow attack each other in row over flights to Far East

3.12.2012 by Nicholas Cecil (Evening Standard)

Heathrow and Gatwick clashed today over flights to the Far East as the row over a hub airport escalated.
Gatwick chiefs announced plans to connect low-cost flights from the Sussex airport to long-haul services, to take on Heathow’s hub airport model. They also proposed London should be served by three two-runway airports, with both Gatwick and Stansted getting an extra runway, instead of Heathrow getting a third. Heathrow hit back, claiming a decision by Korean Air to suspend a Gatwick to Seoul service for the winter, having only started it in the spring, highlighted the problems of running long-haul services to key new markets from a “non-hub” airport. Heathrow argues that the South-East should be served by a single hub, so that there are enough connecting flights and destinations. However, Gatwick insisted Korean Air’s decision was part of normal seasonal trends. A spokesman said: “It is not unusual for airlines to reduce or stop services in the winter. Korean Air will recommence in spring 2013.” Heathrow chief executive Colin Matthews was giving evidence today to the Commons transport committee, with Gatwick counterpart Stewart Wingate, Stansted managing director Nick Barton and Luton airport boss Glyn Jones.  Anti-expansion campaigners and environmentalists were also due before MPs to discuss the air capacity crisis. Gatwick is in talks with airlines about link-ups that would see far more passengers on domestic and European flights switching airside to planes heading for the Far East, US and Caribbean. The baggage-handling system is being improved to facilitate transfers, and some flight times could be amended. Mr Wingate said another runway could be built at Gatwick by the mid-2020s, with a second at Stansted about two decades later, to meet demand. With three competing airports, “the winner will be the customer”, he said. “We will be able to get the connections that London requires for the future.” He argued that allowing Heathrow to build a third runway, or creating a four-runway Thames Estuary superhub, risked continuing the “monopolistic” approach that the break-up of BAA’s airport network had aimed to end. EasyJet said it was “content” with Gatwick and other airports seeking to improve connections, but stressed the vast bulk of its passengers were on point-to-point flights. Communications director Paul Moore said: “The importance of the hub airport has been massively overstated.”   .

. Also

Airport chiefs clash over third runway for Heathrow

Heathrow and Gatwick airport bosses clashed on Monday over aviation policy and competition as they appeared before MPs.

4.12.2012   (Telegraph)  By  Stewart Wingate, Gatwick chief executive, told the Commons Transport Committee he would oppose a third runway at Heathrow and wanted to see Gatwick develop as a competing hub airport.
He argued the case for second runways at Gatwick and Stansted to increase competition among south-east airports and develop Far East traffic.
Mr Wingate rejected suggestions that the South East was facing an airport crisis and said: “There’s a lot of capacity in the system. The challenge is how to make better use of it in the short term.”
But Colin Matthews, Heathrow chief executive, told the committee a third runway was needed at Heathrow to strengthen its role as a premier hub airport and avoid losing international business.
He said that since 2003 Heathrow had lost the equivalent of 1,500 flights to China because there were no take off and landing slots for them.
China Southern, one of the world’s biggest airlines, had waited eight years to get a foothold at Heathrow. “They were amazed when I told them we had no slots to offer,” said Mr Matthews. He maintained that Britain had suffered a considerable loss of trade and jobs because of the pressures on Heathrow and the benefits had been reaped by continental rivals. Mr Matthews said: “There are 75 long haul connections at Heathrow that can’t be served elsewhere in the country. If you squeeze business out of Heathrow it won’t pop up at Gatwick. It will pop up at Paris, Frankfurt or Amsterdam.” He added: “Amsterdam is eating our lunch.” Mr Wingate felt that the London environment would benefit from expansion at Gatwick and Stansted and said the mayor of London’s proposed Thames estuary airport was not a “deliverable solution” because it would cost between £50bn-£80bn. Nick Barton, Stansted chief executive, said his airport had enough capacity to cope with another 18m-19m passengers a year but needed improved transport links. Glyn Jones, Luton airport managing director, told the committee he had submitted plans to increase passenger capacity to 18m a year.   ,

.   This is information on the Transport Select Committee inquiry into airport capacity.

Transport Committee pledges to scrutinise the Government’s aviation strategy

13 September 2012

The Transport Committee has today published the terms of reference for a new inquiry that will examine the Government’s aviation strategy and will focus on aviation capacity in the UK.
 Transport Committee

Launching the inquiry in Parliament, Louise Ellman MP, Chair of the Transport Committee, said:

“The debate about airport capacity in the south east has recently intensified. The Government has announced that an independent commission will be set up to look at hub capacity but it is not expected to produce its final report until 2015.

I believe that a strategy for aviation capacity should not be delayed further. We want the public to get in touch now to make sure they have their voices heard on this important issue.  We aim to influence the Government during the policy development process with sensible but challenging recommendations and to make sure that aviation policy stays high on the political agenda.”

The issues which the Committee will examine, along with an indication of the questions it will pursue, are set out below:

  1. What should be the objectives of Government policy on aviation?a. How important is international aviation connectivity to the UK aviation industry? b. What are the benefits of aviation to the UK economy? c. What is the impact of Air Passenger Duty on the aviation industry? d. How should improving the passenger experience be reflected in the Government’s aviation strategy? e. Where does aviation fit in the overall transport strategy?
  2. How should we make the best use of existing aviation capacity?a. How do we make the best use of existing London airport capacity? Are the Government’s current measures sufficient?  What more could be done to improve passenger experience and airport resilience? b. Does the Government’s current strategy make the best use of existing capacity at airports outside the south east? How could this be improved? c. How can surface access to airports be improved?
  3. What constraints are there on increasing UK aviation capacity?a. Are the Government’s proposals to manage the impact of aviation on the local environment sufficient, particularly in terms of reducing the impact of noise on local residents? b. Will the Government’s proposals help reduce carbon emissions and manage the impact of aviation on climate change? How can aviation be made more sustainable? c. What is the relationship between the Government’s strategy and EU aviation policies?
  4. Do we need a step-change in UK aviation capacity? Why?a. What should this step-change be? Should there be a new hub airport? Where? b. What are the costs and benefits of these different ways to increase UK aviation capacity?

Written evidence would be welcome on some or all of these issues and must be submitted by Friday 19 October.—tor/   .


AEF submits evidence to parliamentary committee

AEF has submitted evidence to the House of Commons Transport Committee inquiry. AEF’s response.