Airports Commission report shows fewer, not more, links to regional airports by 2030 with 3rd runway

The Times reports that analysis by Transport for London (TfL) of the Airports Commission’s final report shows that, with a 3rd runway, Heathrow would only serve 4 domestic destinations by 2030, compared to the 7 is now serves.  It would serve only 3 with no new runway by 2030. (The Gatwick figures are 7 domestic destinations by 2030 with a 2nd runway, compared to 10 now). Heathrow has been claiming that its runway will be important for better links to the regions, and improved domestic connectivity by air. The Heathrow runway has been backed by Peter Robinson, the first minister of Northern Ireland, Derek Mackay, the Scottish transport minister, and Louise Ellman, the chairwoman of the transport select committee – on the grounds that it would help the regions. The Commission’s report says: (Page 313) “15.8 ….without specific measures to support domestic connectivity even an expanded Heathrow may accommodate fewer domestic routes in future….”  The Commission cannot see effective ways to ensure domestic links are not cut in future, as less profitable than long haul, but they suggest public subsidy by the taxpayer for these routes. This is by using PSO (Public Service Obligations) which could cost £ millions, is a bad use of public money, and may fall foul of EU law.  So if the taxpayer has to pay, that means the runway costs us even more.


Heathrow will be ‘ginormous’ error for UK travel, says Boris

Allies of Boris Johnson believe a finding about Gatwick in a recent report was hidden 

by Sam Coates Deputy Political Editor (The Times)

July 31 2015

Full article in the Times here


The mayor of London believes he has uncovered a key fact buried by the Airports Commission that undermines the case for a third runway at Heathrow.

An analysis by Transport for London (TfL) of the commission’s final report found that Heathrow would only serve four domestic destinations by 2030 if it got a third runway. It now serves seven.

Much of the support for expansion at Heathrow rests on the idea that it will be a hub serving the rest of the country…. and improve domestic connectivity.

Boris:  “The commission’s own forecast, once winkled out of its data, is that a third runway would not increase Heathrow’s links to other airports in the UK but would see them fall by nearly half. It is why a third runway is no more than a ginormous, short-sighted and environmentally catastrophic red herring slap bang in the western suburbs of our city.”

Full article in the Times here



As Daniel Moylan says on Twitter (31.7.2015)

admits to PA that a third runway will deliver UK domestic routes only with public subsidies. Cost to taxpayer keeps rising.

Rob Gibson commented on Twitter: 31.7.2015

Public subsidies beyond those that already exist are unlikely due to EU competition rules.


Support for Heathrow runway from regional airports

Liverpool airport backs Heathrow 3rd runway:

Liverpool John Lennon airport believes an expanded Heathrow would offer the opportunity for other UK airports to further grow their networks, something that is crucial for generating growth across the whole country, not just London and the southeast.

Chief executive, Andrew Cornish, said: “Liverpool John Lennon airport welcomes this news and now urges the government to give the go ahead of this important expansion of Heathrow so that regional airports such as Liverpool can soon benefit too by the opening up of access to the UK’s hub airport for improved worldwide connectivity.”


Glasgow, Aberdeen, Liverpool, Leeds-Bradford and Newcastle back Heathrow runway

Glasgow, Aberdeen, Liverpool, Leeds-Bradford and Newcastle have all recognised increased capacity at the country’s only hub airport will deliver benefits for the whole of the UK.

Improving connectivity, boosting economic growth and job creation were cited as the most compelling reasons for the endorsement.

The expansion would connect both Scotland and England’s regions to emerging markets such as China, Brazil and India.





From Times graphic:

Domestic connections 1

TfL says:

Flights from the UK’s main hub airport to UK regional airports have dwindled as capacity has become more stretched. Since 1990, 11 domestic routes to Heathrow have ended making it much more difficult for businesses in places like Cornwall to trade internationally.

The Airports Commission’s final report

There is a lot written about regional connectivity and the regional airports.

Final Report

Here are a few relevant extracts: 

Page 263

Efficient and rapid access to the best possible international connectivity, including
long-haul links to emerging market destinations, will also play an important role in
supporting economic growth in the major city-regions of the Midlands and the North,
in line with the Government’s evolving policy to create a Northern Powerhouse, and
helping to rebalance the UK economy. While regional airports including Manchester
and Birmingham are attracting rising numbers of long-haul services, particularly on
routes to international hubs such as Dubai, New York and Hong Kong, other, more
marginal, links are always likely to depend upon the greater weight of demand in the
London market. As discussed above, this demand is strongest at Heathrow. Enhanced
domestic aviation links to the airport, combined with the direct link to HS2 at Old Oak
Common and the Western Rail Link from Reading will ensure that the benefits of
expansion at Heathrow are felt across the English regions.
• Expansion is likely to protect and bolster domestic services in and out of
London leading to a rise in the number of passengers and frequency of
services on the thickest routes.

• The Government should alter its guidance to allow the introduction of
Public Service Obligations on an airport-to-airport basis and should
use them to support a widespread network of domestic routes at the
expanded airport.

• Heathrow Airport Ltd (HAL) should implement additional measures to
enhance domestic connectivity, including introducing reduced charges
and start-up funding for regional services.


Impacts of Heathrow expansion on domestic connectivity

Capacity constraints at Heathrow Airport have seen the number of domestic
connections decline at the airport over recent years. No daily service has operated
between Heathrow and Liverpool since 1991, Inverness since 1997 and Durham
Tees Valley since 2008. On many of the remaining domestic routes the frequency of
service has reduced; over the past 20 years the number of daily services operating
to and from Glasgow and Edinburgh has fallen by over a third.

15.2 This reduction in connections to London and – through the connections afforded by
Heathrow – its broad international route network has been of grave concern to the
UK’s nations and regions. In responses to consultation (and to the Commission’s
Discussion Paper 6: Utilisation of the UK’s Existing Airport Capacity, which was
published in June 2014), a large number of councils, elected representatives,
business groups and Local Enterprise Partnerships from across the UK stressed the
importance and desirability of retaining, renewing or establishing links to Heathrow.
Often these parties cited the serious influence that the loss or gain of a connection
to Heathrow can have on a nation or region’s economy
15.3 Expansion will provide a valuable opportunity to reverse the long-standing trend of
declining domestic links into the nation’s hub airport, providing new slots for airlines
to operate services to and from areas of currently unserved demand. Expansion will
also protect and bolster existing domestic services into London, leading to a rise in
the numbers of passengers on, and the frequency of, the thickest routes. This
remains the case to 2050, the furthest point to which demand is forecast, as shown
in Figure 15.1.

15.4 The new slots made available at Heathrow would allow airlines to establish new
domestic links to the capital, re-establish lost connections and increase frequencies
on those that are already in place. Heathrow Airport Ltd and easyJet’s consultation
responses argued that were the low-cost carrier to move to the airport, it would
seek to develop new services to Inverness, Jersey, Belfast International and the Isle
of Man. And a number of regional airports’ consultation responses stressed the
strength of demand for services into London and the South East from their areas.
To support this point, the National Connectivity Task Force put forward analysis
considering the latent demand for services from the UK regions to the capital,
suggesting that in 2040 domestic services could utilise 136-175 additional daily slot
pairs at an expanded Heathrow, compared to current day slot allocation of 55 daily

slot pairs. This would equate to 6.5% of runway capacity at the expanded airport
being utilised for domestic services, up from 4.2% currently.
15.5 Moreover, these developments should be considered in the context of the advent of
HS2, as well as improved rail speeds and frequencies on the Great Western and
Midland Main Lines. As with the provision of new slots for domestic flights, these
improvements will substantially enhance the UK’s internal connectivity,
strengthening the transport links between London and the country’s major cities.
They will also widen the catchment area of Heathrow itself, bringing the nation’s hub
airport and the strong international connectivity that it provides within a two hour
journey time of 20 million people, and a three hour journey time of 38 million people,
via surface transport.

15.6 As a result, expansion will generate significant economic benefits across the UK’s
nations and regions. Improved links to London and the South East, combined with
the lower cost of transport and increases in the level of international trade, will boost
productivity in regional economies. Using the carbon-traded forecast the
Commission’s macroeconomic assessment suggests that 60% of the economic
impact of expansion may be felt outside London and the South East as businesses
all over the country feel the benefits of increased connectivity and openness. When
an assessment is undertaken with carbon emissions constrained to the CCC
planning assumption the economic benefits are less strong, but they continue to be
well distributed across the country, in similar proportion to the carbon-traded

15.7 Against this positive outlook, it is important to note that even in the event of
expansion, a number of competing pressures may limit the increase in domestic
services to an enlarged Heathrow. One such pressure could be continuing
competition from overseas hubs, which may still be able to offer cheaper services,
higher frequencies, or more convenient connections on some routes. An expanded
Heathrow is also likely to see rapid growth in demand, which may relatively quickly
begin to exert pressure on slots during the most popular periods.

15.8 The Commission’s forecasts reflect these pressures and suggest that without
specific measures to support domestic connectivity even an expanded Heathrow
may accommodate fewer domestic routes in future than the seven served currently.
It would still however see more than the three domestic routes predicted to be
available from the airport without expansion


and there is much more ….

15.15 The only viable way of ring-fencing slots for certain services is via the use of Public Service Obligations (PSOs), which allow the state to provide subsidies to a carrier on a route which is not commercially viable. EU Member States are entitled to establish PSOs in respect of air services between two airports in the European Community, where one of these airports serves a peripheral or development region, and where the air service is considered ‘vital for the economic and social development of the region which the airport serves’. As PSOs constitute State aid interventions, their use is carefully monitored by the European Commission, in order to protect against distortions of competition in the Single Market.

15.16 The UK has in the last 12 months established two PSOs, one from Newquay Airport to London Gatwick and the other from Dundee Airport to London Stansted. Both routes were subsidised out of the Government’s Regional Air Connectivity Fund (RACF), a £20 million fund set aside by the coalition Government to safeguard routes to and from the London airport system and the UK regions