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Heathrow May Become Local Airport

Heathrow AirportAirport and business bosses are saying that London will lose the status of global travel powerhouse in just years if urgent action isn’t taken by the government to solve the aviation crisis. Prime Minister David Cameron has been warned by Heathrow Airport owner and operator BAA that the international hub will become a ‘local airport’ by 2027, which will devastatingly impact the capital’s economy. Saying that time is running out to solve this problem before the damage can’t be reversed has been the BAA chief executive Colin Matthews’s strongest attack on the government.

Heathrow Airport is at maximum capacity and can’t accept new routes because of that. At the same time, rivals across Europe are seeing a rise in passenger numbers – like Frankfurt and Paris. Matthews is urging the government to make a move before the aviation consultation this summer, or London could be reduced to a ‘branch line’ on international travel networks. He claims they only have about 15 years left and something needs to be done now. The frequency of flights and number of destinations served at the hub will gradually decline if no action is taken, Matthews warns. There will come a time when that decline is so much that the hub won’t be sustainable anymore. They can do nothing, but that will mean business that should be taken to the UK is instead taken to Amsterdam, Frankfurt or Paris.

The government is preparing for another aviation consultation this summer for a new policy that’s due to be announced next spring. So far, it’s ruled out building a third runway at Heathrow Airport and not given full backing to proposals from London Mayor Boris Johnson for a new airport in the Thames estuary. Business leaders are also saying that the status of London as the premier trading city in the world is under more threat than ever.

Johnson says the capital’s position as an international economic powerhouse is under severe threat. Competitors in Europe who have built huge four-runway, or more, airports are snatching up British passengers. That’s why they have to act now to invest in a modern, four-runway, 24-hour hub airport to stand a chance of staying competitive. Not doing anything will mean tens of thousands of good jobs that should stay in London are exported to other countries.

International Airlines Group (IAG), the holding company for British Airways and Spanish carrier Iberia, chief executive Willie Walsh says he’s seen no evidence the government appreciates the importance of aviation to the UK. The rest of the world is securing infrastructure to make sure their economies can grow, while Britain has done the opposite. The government has yet to show any semblance of policy in two years, and he’s afraid of their future. Clearly Johnson is a very smart man. Although he doesn’t agree with the Mayor’s position on Heathrow Airport, he admires his bravery to firmly put proposals for a hub airport on the agenda.

London First director of strategy and policy John Dickie says the capital has been the number one trading city against all the odds. However, they aren’t going to keep that position if they don’t have connections to countries like China. Cities like Amsterdam and Paris that shouldn’t be competitive with London will be, as they have better connections, he added.

 

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