London to lose 20 destinations?

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London’s airports could lose daily connections with up to 20 international cities if it does not increase runway capacity, according to research by auditor, KPMG.

The research says other major cities are expected to build over 50 new runways by 2036, with most of the growth coming from Asia. It predicts that the biggest growth in China will be from Beijing expanding from three to 11 runways by 2036, and Chengdu from two to seven. Other Asian locations predicted to increase include Ho Chi Minh City rising from two runways to five, and Manila from four to six. The analysis says that London’s airports will be full by 2030 if nothing is done.

KPMG global head of aviation, James Stamp, says: “The report shows that the debate about new runways in the UK is not just about where to lay 3,000 metres of concrete, it is a debate that is fundamentally rooted in how we secure our future economic prosperity.” Stamp also says half the world economic growth will be from emerging markets within the next decade. He also says London is missing out on growth in China, as Paris has 50 per cent more flights to the country. Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport has 11 daily flights to four Chinese destinations and Frankfurt Airport has 10 flights to six cities. Heathrow Airport has five daily flights to Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai, but no other Chinese cities. The director, Gavin Hayes, of Campaign group, Let Britain Fly, which is trying to build support for airport expansion in the UK, says: “With all of London’s airports predicted to be full by the end of the next decade, it is more important than ever that political action is taken to ensure we do not fall behind our international rivals.” 

Hayes tells Air Cargo Week (ACW): “The lack of runway capacity in London and the South East is already costing the UK economy billions in lost trade and investment every year. This is because it is hampering our ability to increase our direct connectivity with emerging market countries such as Brazil and China.”

In 2012, the UK government set up the Airports Commission, led by Sir Howard Davies, to examine the options for runway expansion in the UK. It has shortlisted three options for runway expansion, which are a third runway at Heathrow Airport (see picture), a second runway at Gatwick Airport or lengthening Heathrow’s northern runway so it can be used as two separate runways. The commission will report after the UK parliamentary general election, which takes place in May.

Hayes also tells ACW that Let Britain Fly is not taking a view on where a new runway should be built, but is trying to build support across the British political parties for expansion. 

Over 100 business leaders have signed the Let Britain Fly pledge including, British International Freight Association director general, Peter Quantrill and Segro chief executive officer, David Sleath.

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