As the on-going debate into increasing UK aviation capacity continued last week there were several key announcements, which will be considered by the Davies Commission, set up in September 2012 to chair the debate and come up with recommendations on how best to expand airport capacity and support UK economic growth. The Commission is gathering evidence about current and future airport capacity and all the factors that affect this and has asked for submissions on proposals for future capacity.
- Heathrow submitted their plans for expansion – this includes a new runway by 2029 in order to operate 740,000 flights a year - up from the current limit of 480,000.
- The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, announced three proposals to increase UK aviation capacity: a new hub airport in either the Isle of Grain or the Thames Estuary and also the expansion of Stansted airport.
- Gatwick submitted its proposals for a second runway to act as part of a constellation of three major airports surrounding London.
The Davies Commission expects to report on existing capacity in Dec 2013, including recommendations for immediate actions over the next five years to improve existing capacity, and to report on new capacity following the 2015 elections. Whichever option they choose to take forward, the business City has an interest: air services continue to be of critical importance to the functioning of the City economy. The City is increasingly global in its operations, with a particular need for improved air links with expanding economies such as Latin America. This drives a need for additional airport capacity to ensure that London can continue to offer the high level of connectivity with the rest of the world that is critical for future economic success.
The City of London has commissioned and published several reports on aviation – the 2008 report 'Aviation services and the City' which concluded that there was business support for a third runway at Heathrow. An update to this piece in 2011 looked at the implications of changes in policy since the last study, notably the abandonment of plans for a third runway at Heathrow and a second runway at Stansted.
Our latest research in 2012, included a report on London’s connectivity to emerging and growth markets - examining London’s connectivity by air to twenty two growth and emerging markets, (shown in this infographic highlighting the links) and compared this provision with four other primary European air travel hubs (Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Madrid and Paris) and with another growing global hub, Dubai. And a second piece, concentrated on the importance of London having hub capacity in maintaining connectivity by air to key business markets, focusing on the extent to which hub connecting traffic underpins the provision of services in London to twenty key business centres.
Our analysis provides evidence that hubbing is a factor in securing a wider route network than would otherwise be possible. It further suggests that the conditions for some airlines to enhance the range and frequency of connections are to a large extent dependent on being able to retain a range of feeder connections at a hub and this has been significant in supporting the development of services to emerging business centres in India and Latin America. Feeder traffic from the UK, Europe, US and the rest of the world is critical to sustaining these services.
The debate on London’s airport capacity will continue up to and beyond the reporting of the Davies Commission, but it will be critical to find long-term solutions for air capacity that will maintain London’s and the UK’s competitive position.
The reports mentioned in the post above are all available to download from the City of London website: