Heathrow Hub is the most politically deliverable airport proposal, says Jock Lowe.
Heathrow Hub is the independent proposal to extend the northern runway at the airport to at least 6,800m, with a safety in the middle, enabling the runway to be operated as two runways. The publication of the Airports Commission public consultation report, issued today, claims this to be the most deliverable option on the Commission’s shortlist.
Led by Captain William ‘Jock’ Lowe, Concorde’s longest serving pilot, its proposal is to extend an existing runway rather than build a new one. According to the report, this alternative could increase available airport capacity by 40%, minimise environmental impact and avoid bringing any significant new communities into the noise footprint.
Gatwick has a vastly smaller asset base (around 15% of that of Heathrow) and considerably lower revenues than Heathrow. Such a capital expenditure programme, to deliver the new runway they are seeking, would result in significantly higher user charges for passengers at Gatwick.
The report estimates that Gatwick’s proposal would also require significant public investment to upgrade the road and rail services to the airport that would be needed to service the new runway.
The Airports Commission, which today has a launched its long awaited public consultation process regarding the three shortlisted options, is examining potential solutions to a forecasted lack of runway capacity in the South East of England by 2030; the Commission will subsequently look into solutions required by 2050.
Through the public consultation process the Airports Commission are asking for feedback from stakeholders and members of the public on the three shortlisted proposals.
Jock Lowe, the longest serving Concorde pilot and the leader of the Heathrow Hub concept, said:
“We welcome the launch of this public consultation process by the Airports Commission. We believe we have an innovative solution to Heathrow expansion and that the British public, given a chance to consider our proposal in some detail, will agree that our approach offers the UK the best possible answer to the growing aviation capacity challenge that we all face.
“The Commission have conducted a thorough and transparent process and we look forward to a continuing dialogue with them and other stakeholders as they undertake a detailed appraisal of our proposal.
“We will also continue to advocate the development of an integrated rail and passenger facility north of Heathrow in order to create an integrated hub airport for the whole country.
“Heathrow is the UK’s only international hub airport. It is a key driver of the UK’s economic competitiveness and is responsible for around 1% of UK GDP. Heathrow is an important UK asset.
“No other UK airport can achieve such geographic connectivity and Gatwick’s claims for an additional runway are without merit: Gatwick doesn’t have Heathrow’s capacity to handle the extra passengers, nor does it have the transport connections or geographic advantages that make Heathrow se accessible to the whole country. Heathrow is where the airlines want to be.”
“We have submitted a detailed safety case to the CAA. Our proposal faces no major obstacles on safety and in fact we believe our proposal could be even safer than the other two shortlisted options.
“Our proposal is not only politically deliverable, but politically desirable.”