Careful analysis by Richmond campaign shows up weaknesses in Airports Commission economic arguments
The Airports Commission, in recommending Heathrow as the location for a new runway, has given the impression that it would benefit the regions and create more connectivity for regional airports. An analysis of the Commission’s many papers, by the Richmond Heathrow Campaign (RHC), has unearthed very different data. These indicate that the Heathrow north west runway would mean an extra 41 million annual passengers at Heathrow, but a loss of 58 million passengers per year from other UK airports, including Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow. The RHC does not consider this to be compatible with the “Northern Powerhouse.” They also believe that over 50% of the new runway capacity would be used for an extra 22 million International to International transfers, providing little economic value to the UK as these passengers don’t step outside the airport. The RHC comments that the Commission’s data shows the investment of £17.6 billion to build the runway would result in a net benefit of £1.4 billion (present value over 60 years) when other costs are taken into account. This is negligible in macro-economic terms. The RHC says the Commission’s own reports show “there is no need for this costly new investment in one airport at the expense of others. Allowing the market to grow where it is needed is the right answer – no new runways.”
Let’s Face the Facts on Heathrow
27th September 2015
Worried about escalating house prices and rents in the south-east?
Agree with the need to re-balance the UK economy through a Northern Powerhouse?
What would you think about a Government decision that increased the over-heating in the southeast and worked against a re-balancing of the economy? You’d think it was nuts, wouldn’t you?
Let’s look at some surprising facts:
1. Heathrow’s third runway would support an extra 41 million passengers a year. But this growth is concentrated at a single airport in the over-heated south-east, and results in a loss of 58 million passengers a year from other UK airports, including Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow.
Compatible with the Northern Powerhouse? Surely not.
2. Want to increase the UK’s aviation capacity and international competitiveness? The Airports Commission’s own data show a reduction of 17 million passengers for the UK as a whole, including business passengers and domestic passengers, as well as a reduction in flights and connectivity if the Heathrow option is chosen.
3. Want the passengers using the airspace to benefit the UK economy? Over 50% of the new runway capacity would be used for an extra 22 million International to International transfers, providing little economic value to the UK as these passengers don’t step outside the airport.
4. And for those of you who are into macro-economic data, a final astonishing fact: The Commission says the investment of £17.6 billion [runway building costs. Page 271. Point 13.80 of Airports Commission final report ] would result in a net benefit of £1.4 billion (present value over 60 years). [This figure is from Page 89 point 3.148 of the commission’s report Business Case and Sustainability Assessment – Heathrow Airport Northwest Runway ] This sounds a decent sum but it is negligible in macro-economic terms and within the margin for statistical error. And that’s ignoring the fact that the figure may be even smaller if full calculations for noise and air pollution and investment in transport to and from the airport, were to be included.
Don’t believe it? We were astonished too. But let’s face the facts before investing £17 billion on Heathrow Airport plus a further £20 billion required to improve surface transport access: the evidence shows it will not deliver what we and the Government want. And we haven’t even mentioned all the problems of compliance with CO2, air pollution and noise targets.
These facts are all in the Airport’s Commission final report. Good stuff. But the conclusion reached is not supported by the facts.
The fact is that there is already significant spare capacity at almost all UK’s airports including
Heathrow itself, which the Commission says has capacity to add another 34 million terminating passengers without any additional flights by using larger planes. Heathrow is far from full. There is no need for this costly new investment in one airport at the expense of others. Allowing the market to grow where it is needed is the right answer – no new runways.
We challenge the supporters of Heathrow expansion to debate the facts with us before it is too late.
Take a look rhcfacts.org/ukhub/. It’s astonishing.
Contact details: Richmond Heathrow Campaign. www.richmondheathrowcampaign.org
The report from the Richmond Heathrow Campaign