Johnson Backs New Stansted Runway

Stansted AirportLondon Mayor Boris Johnson says another runway at Stansted Airport would be a great step on the right path to resolving the air capacity crisis in the south-east, before a new hub is built in the Thames Estuary. If the new runway is given the go ahead, the Crossrail project will be extended to serve the airport.

Johnson is the most senior figure to support a new Stansted Airport runway, while he strongly believes the region will need a new airport for the long-term. He says a new runway will be a good solution for the time being. Much money is moving on to Stansted Airport now, and there’s a possibility a high-speed rail line will be extended there.

These comments will be taken as acceptance that the government won’t immediately choose to build a new four-runway mega-hub in the Thames Estuary – which is being called Boris Island. If another runway is built at Stansted and a high-speed rail line is extended to it, he says this would be a great step in the right direction. Then they will be able to really consider another hub. Every option must be evaluated.

In a magazine interview, Johnson suggested again that he may make a bid to lead the Tory Party in the future. A new airport is needed in the future. One of the only reasons he wants to assume supreme power in England is to ensure this is done. He then told the journalist not to quote him saying that.

Johnson has also launched an attack on the government following a refusal by Prime Minister David Cameron to rule out a reconsideration of a third runway at Heathrow Airport after the next election in 2015. He said in an interview that he believes Cameron is trying to dirty the waters by suggesting a u-turn on a new Heathrow runway. The whole decision to reopen talks about it is designed to cause confusion and allow the process to be delayed as long as possible. The government’s strategy is to divide and rule, and it’s a game to dissolve the energy of a new airport campaign. He added a quote from Winston Churchill: “The government is basically resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift”.

Last week, Cameron repeated the coalition government’s position against expansion at Heathrow Airport until 2015. However, he said MPs shouldn’t be blind to the need of more capacity. More and more backbench Conservative MPs think the expansion is needed to boost the nation’s links to China and other growing markets.

A spokesman for BAA, the owner and operator of Stansted and Heathrow airports, says Stansted is great and has a good punctuality record. However, building a new runway won’t solve the hub airport capacity crisis in the UK. It has plenty of extra capacity, and airlines could relocate their operations from Heathrow to Stansted now – and save millions of pounds doing it. All a second runway would do is increase the amount of spare capacity there, he added.

Stop Stansted Expansion campaign director Carol Barbone says Stansted Airport is only operating at half capacity. If the market was interested in using it, they would be seeing a rise in passenger numbers instead of a decline for the last five years. Johnson is holding onto straws amid opposition to the airport in the Thames Esturary.




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