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Published on Friday, May 17, 2013

Heathrow stands firm over third runway

Heathrow has dropped its support for controversial changes that would allow aircraft to take off and land on its runways at the same time.

The airport had previously supported the idea, known as 'mixed mode', which would allow it to increase flights at Heathrow from 480,000 a year to 530,000.

But responding to the publication of the Airports Commission consultation document yesterday, Heathrow issued a statement this morning saying it did not support the short term fix because it would increase noise pollution for nearby residents.

Instead, it insists the only way to solve the UK's shortage of hub capacity is by building a third runway.

The change in stance is seen as a tactical move by the airport to improve the chances of getting permission for an extra runway.

But in its consultation document, the Airports Commission suggested there could be more than one London hub, saying it was feasible for one of the three global airline alliances currently based at Heathrow to switch to another airport.

"A complete alliance might ... find it possible to transfer the entirety of its network if it chose to do so and the necessary capacity was available," it said in its consultation document.

Interested parties have until July 13 to submit their evidence.

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  • David Tarsh

    This report is alarming! A hub airport is one of the best examples of an economy of scope there is. The bigger the hub; the more the choice for passengers to connect through it and the more attractive it is for airlines to fly there. Having Gatwick compete with Heathrow is good because competition drives down prices. However, trying to come up with some kind of fix to push traffic to Gatwick from Heathrow is the WRONG answer. Gatwick with one runway is not full. Heathrow with two runways is full, with a queue outside the door. That is a situation where the right commercial decision is to allow Heathrow to expand not to emasculate it by trying to push traffic away from it to another London airport. That is commercial insanity. If I were running a major airline alliance and I had a foothold in Heathrow and if the UK were to try to push me to another London airport; I would be very seriously P****** off. I would think, why bother with this city when it is so anti-aviation and anti-growth. I'd play the best waiting game I could and in the meantime make serious plans to shift my hub activities to Paris, Amsterdam or Frankfurt who would want my business. If there is one technological advance I can guarantee and would make a bet on in public, it is that planes will get quieter. Predicting when and by how much is harder but that it will happen is in economic terms pretty much a certainty and with a 25 year time horizon there is scope for very much quieter aviation. There is a piece of research that has yet to gain publicity but it exists. It reveals that in the London boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith and Fulham and Wandsworth, all Tory controlled, there is a majority opinion in favour of expanding Heathrow. Residents of those boroughs live under the flight path and despite having a massive vested interest in quieter skies over their homes can see that in the trade off between more noise and more economic growth, economic growth wins. We are still in a dire financial crisis. Travel, tourism and aviation are the economy stupid! We urgently need to approve the expansion of Heathrow and the longer we take, the faster we are p****** away the economic future of our children. David Tarsh is a strategic communications adviser to several organisations in the travel industry and lives under the flight path.

    By David Tarsh, Friday, May 17, 2013

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