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Heathrow expansion delays make UK "laughing stock"

Heathrow r3 north west option cropped

Heathrow expansion delays could make the UK a “laughing stock around the world”, particularly in the wake of the EU referendum, the National Infrastructure Commission told MPs.

NIC deputy chair Sir John Armitt said the delays were a “political failure” and “the clearest way the government could say we are not open to the world” at a Treasury Select Committee meeting.

He said: “Heathrow is very clearly the most sensible place to do it. The longer we delay the more we frankly are just a laughing stock around the world and certainly we will not be prepared post-Brexit to play our part.

“If we want to show we are open to the world this is the clearest way the Government could say we are not open to the world.”

NIC chairman Lord Adonis told the committee discussing the work of the National Infrastructure Commission that Heathrow is operating at 99% capacity and has to turn away business.

He said: “We just need to get real about this, we cannot dither for this length of time and sacrifice national welfare which is what is happening by not expanding Heathrow, we have to get on and do it.”

He compared Heathrow to other European airports and said it is losing out to competitors. Heathrow has connections to four destinations in China in comparison to nine at Amsterdam Schiphol, seven at Paris Charles de Gaulle and five at Frankfurt.

Adonis added: “That international connectivity that we’re losing from the UK is not, unfortunately, going to Gatwick, or Manchester or Edinburgh.

“It is going to Schiphol, to Frankfurt, to Charles de Gaulle who are getting connectivity with emerging markets that we’re not.”

Last month Adonis said the delays were ”perhaps the most serious infrastructure failure of all” as the NIC launched it’s first national assessment ahead of the final report which will be published next year.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Philip Alexander

    Yes, but it's a laughing stock because it's completely the wrong solution. Why keep squeezing all your eggs into one small basket, pretty soon something will break and it'll be all the eggs. We have a 2 runway airport at Heathrow operating probably the most congested 2 runways in the world. We have a one runway airport at Gatwick operating the most intensive one runway anywhere in the world. What fool would add another ONE runway to the twin runway airport instead of adding another to the single runway thus creating two pairs which can be operated as complementary airports. The showcase for British expertise in engineering and operations could then be an ultra highspeed railway between the two, thus creating a virtual single airport. The cost of adding a single runway to Gatwick and the highspeed railway would be a quarter of the absurd cost of a 3rd runway at Heathrow squeezed into a ridiculously small footprint. And all this fuss about air quality at Heathrow and what to do with the M25 would then be a lot simpler.
    It's an absolute no brainer. What other major airport in the world operates 3 runways? It's either 2, 4 or 6.

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