Vindicating the long held views of British Airways, the UK’s Transport Select Committee have come out in favour of expansion at Heathrow and rejected proposals for a brand new airport to the east of London.
Although the Committee have no control over government policy, the findings of the cross-party groups of MPs will come as a major blow to Boris Johnson and his supporters who have been arguing that the UK should build a brand new airport somewhere to the east of London.
The Committee’s conclusions were that a new airport to the east of London would be too expensive to build, require huge subsidies and damage the local environment. Instead, as the majority of the business community and airlines such as British Airways have long argued, they came out in the support of Heathrow, the ‘jewel in the crown’ of international aviation, and backed plans for an additional 3rd and perhaps even 4th runway.
Indeed not only did the Committee call for an increase in capacity at Heathrow, they also encouraged Gatwick, the UK’s second busiest airport, to press ahead with plans for its own second runway. Again, such development has been rejected both by local residents and Boris Johnson.
Faced by strongly conflicting positions, David Cameron has done what successive governments have done over the years, run away from the problem. The government has therefore asked Sir Howard Davies to form a commission to look into airport capacity in the south east but to delay its final report, ready or not, until 2015, after the next General Election. The problem for David Cameron is that many of the parliamentary constituencies in west London that would be most affected by increased aircraft noise are currently held by the Conservatives…….but only just.
British Airways said the report ‘backs up our view that a Thames Estuary airport is not a credible option’.