Increasing Runway Capacity in the South East to Support International Connectivity

Aviation connectivity is a key enabler for economic growth and in increasing access to markets, our preferred option is direct flights where practical.

In addition to increasing direct flights, and particularly to access long haul routes to emerging economies, we need access to hub airports and a UK hub airport is preferable given proximity and timezone. London Heathrow Airport (LHR) is the UK’s hub airport offering the greatest number of onward connections and greatest frequency of service.

It is recognised that the major London airports, particularly LHR, are operating near to or at capacity and this poses a threat to our ongoing hub access and access to international markets.

The Airports Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, was tasked with examining the need for additional capacity and its interim report (December 2013) highlighted that additional runway capacity is required in the South East of England by 2030. One new runway, with the capacity to handle around 200,000 aircraft movements a year, is required to maintain the UK’s connectivity and hub status.

In November 2014, the Airports Commission published a consultation on its assessment of the proposals for additional runway capacity at Gatwick and Heathrow airports. The consultation presents the commission’s analysis of the proposals shortlisted:

  a proposal from Gatwick Airport Ltd for an additional runway to the south of the existing runway at Gatwick Airport

  a proposal from Heathrow Airport Ltd for an additional runway to the north west of the existing northern runway at Heathrow Airport

  a proposal from Heathrow Hub Ltd for an extension to the existing northern runway at Heathrow Airport to operate as 2 separate runways

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