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Rising demand puts pressure on South East airports

Fresh calls have been made for a decision on increasing runway capacity in the South East after manufacturer Boeing predicted that tens of thousands of new aircraft will be needed by 2031.

Boeing’s Current Market Outlook 2012 to 2031 report forecasts a 5% annual growth in global passenger air travel, and a similar expansion in air cargo volumes.

It said that 34,000 aircraft costing a total of $4.5 trillion (£2.9bn) would be needed to match this demand. The report assumes airport infrastructure construction will keep pace.

Mott MacDonald aviation consultant Laurie Price said the government had to ensure the UK was not left behind as aircraft use grew.

“There is a complete constipation in UK aviation policy and has been for 40 years,” he told NCE.

“The prime minister has spoken of his pride in filling planes with UK businessmen but I ask: ‘where will these planes fly from’?

“Let’s stop talking and start acting. We need a decision sooner rather than later. Aircraft are moveable assets and if we don’t provide runways for them, then airlines will progressively ignore the UK.”

Cost consultant EC Harris head of aviation Paul Willis said he feared that the UK could lose out to its neighbours. “Without new infrastructure, planes will go to airports with spare capacity, such as Frankfurt and Amsterdam, and Heathrow will lose its status as a leading airport.

“If Heathrow becomes less important; so does London. The impact on the economy would be massive.

A spokeswoman for business lobby group London First said the government understood the need for new runways but did not seem to realise the urgency. “We need capacity tackled now,” she said. “We need short, medium and long-term solutions.”

Readers' comments (3)

  • julian Hartless

    I still think the long term solution should be to look to the Midlands for the additional runways where there is capacity for aircraft movements. HS2 connection brings fast access to the center of London so there should be no loos of business form such a move. Heathrow and Gatwick are very busy and so should benifit from the safer enviroment.

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    Boeing says there will be a 5% annual growth in passenger air travel.
    Well they would, wouldn't they? But how much of that growth will be in Asia, or South America, or Africa? Most of it, I'd bet.
    Then London First - actually a lobby group for London business, not for UK business - pile in with their rent-a quote!

    Businessmen outside the South East could not give a hoot about expanding capacity at Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted; British Airways, which now controls over 50% of the gates at Heathrow, has made a conscious decision not to fly international flights from anywhere in the UK except Heathrow and Gatwick.

    So we in return will never fly BA except as absolutely the last resort. Much more convenient and pleasant to fly via AMS, CDG or FRA or on direct flights with overseas airlines which have moved in where our "national carrier" has left.

    Reduce the traffic through London, 70% of which is not business traffic, and you will not need extra runways.

    At some stage a new airport will be needed to replace Heathrow in the Thames estuary; think how quickly this would happen if an incoming plane crashed on central London?

    Every additional item of infrastructure built there (T4, T5, updated T2, new runway(s), etc) only postpones the day that this third world airport is closed.

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  • There's rising demand for lots of things, it doesn't necessarily mean it's a good thing to increase supply.

    Bearing in mind we're supposed to be reducing CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050, meanwhile in 2006 - when we were aiming for a 60% cut - the Gov's Tindall Centre calculated that if we increased air travel in accordance with the (now defunct) 2003 aviation White Paper, then aviation would use up 2.5 times our entire carbon allowance in 2050 - then where does all this fit in?

    The Gov says carbon trading should sort this out - but aviation is an incredibly carbon intensive way of creating jobs - for every one created we'll need to lose dozens elsewhere in the economy. The only outcome I can see is that manufacturing will have to move wholesale to developing countries so that we stay within our CO2 target.

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