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Heathrow makes third runway pledges

Heathrow

Heathrow has made a fresh bid for a third runway, promising a longer period each night without flights and inviting scrutiny of air quality measures.

The West London airport’s chief executive John Holland-Kaye wrote to prime minister David Cameron setting out a revised expansion plan.

The government-commissioned, Sir Howard Davies-led Airports Commission last summer recommended construction of a third runway at Heathrow to solve an air capacity crisis in the South East.

Yet despite further backing for a quick approval of this plan, from MPs and contractors, ministers have put off a final decision until later this year.

Holland-Kaye wrote to Cameron this week: “You demanded ambitious plans from my team to deliver expansion with a bold and fair deal for our neighbours.

“Today, I am proud to submit a comprehensive plan that meets and exceeds your demands. This is a big commitment from us, but it is the right choice for the country, local communities and jobs across Britain.

“We have acted now to let you and your government make the right choice, in the long term interest of our country. It will enable you to choose Heathrow and secure a stronger economy and Britain’s place in the world.”

Suggestions made by Heathrow include:

  • A government ban on scheduled flights between 11pm and 5.30am – up from just five hours at present
  • The Environment Agency to act as independent aviation air quality authority and scrutinise Heathrow’s plan to expand within air quality limits
  • Establishing an education and skills taskforce to identify how best to develop the airport’s future workforce and to create a legacy for UK infrastructure projects

Key engineering figures this week said finding a solution to the runway crisis in the South East was a priority for new London mayor Sadiq Khan.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • In doing its best to appease environmental concerns by proposing a longer night time curfew for an expanded 3 runway airport, Heathrow Airport will reduce its future appeal to airlines who want less (not more) restrictions on when to schedule their long haul services. Flights from the Far-East already queue up to land at Heathrow after 4.30am and so extending the night curfew to 5.30am will be seen by airlines as a backwards step and will offer passengers less choice. The proposed night curfew will also make Heathrow less appealing to airfreight operators for whom night-time operations are fundamental to their overnight logistics business.

    Whilst a third runway at Heathrow might overcome some medium term capacity problems, the longer night time curfew would represent a tighter "straight-jacket" on its long term value to the UK. A more visionary long-term solution to the UK's aviation conundrum would be to build an airport somewhere that could allow unrestricted 24 hour operations. It's a pity that the Davies Commission dismissed such an option in the Thames Estuary too quickly on the grounds that it looked "too big and difficult".

    The UK needs to think bigger and bolder in planning its infrastructure for the long-term.

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