A runway extension plan for Heathrow could safely handle as many air movements as a third runway according to new research.
Heathrow Hub said that its proposal to extend the northern runway could safely accommodate 750,000 air transport movements (ATMs) per year – as many as Heathrow Airport’s official proposed third runway.
It said that the new research supporting its independent extended runway concept had been submitted to the Department for Transport (DfT) for new transport secretary Chris Grayling’s consideration.
The DfT is reviewing the runway extension proposal alongside two other proposals from Heathrow and Gatwick with Grayling saying “a rapid decision” is needed. Heathrow Hub said that it felt the new evidence was important because the Airports Commission had wrongly decided that its northern runway extension as only capable of handling 700,000 ATMs per year, 40,000 fewer than under Heathrow’s third runway proposal.
The new research was conducted using advanced AirTOp Fast Time Simulation modelling, which simulated the arrivals, departures and ground movement of the airport running at a very busy daily theoretical rate in the future between 6am and 11pm.
Heathrow Hub director Jock Lowe said: “This modelling should correct and lay to rest an error made by the Airports Commission, which did not run an iterative process and consequently made various mistakes. Our extended runway can safely handle the same capacity as Heathrow Airport Ltd’s third runway.
“We hope Chris Grayling should now have the reassurance he needs to pick our proposal over Heathrow Airport Ltd’s third Runway. Not only is our extended runway concept cheaper, simpler, and quieter than the expensive third Runway, it offers the same capacity.
“Extending the runway at Heathrow is the right decision for the British economy now and we should just get on with it.”
Heathrow Hub’s view is that such a large amount of capacity – more than 50% above the 480,000 ATM rate at which the airport currently runs – is unlikely to be required in the foreseeable future as there is insufficient demand from airlines and passengers for daytime long haul flights.
Heathrow Hub said that a unique feature of its proposal was that it could be phased and capacity released incrementally. Because of this it believes that the government should approve phase 1 of its proposal which it said would add 70,000 ATMs at a cost of £3.7bn, by extending the runway and using existing terminal capacity. It said that phased expansion was cheaper; easier to finance; less risky; and would enable regulators only to release additional ATMs if important noise and air quality limits were met by the airport.
The Heathrow Hub concept involves extending Heathrow’s northern runway and splitting it in two, effectively creating a third runway without adding extra, noisy flightpaths.