UK runway decision now set to be made next week

Aerial view of Heathrow

Reports claim that a decision on airport expansion in the South East of England will be made next week after previous hopes it would be made today (Tuesday 18 October) by the UK Government.

The final decision on whether to expand either Heathrow Airport or Gatwick Airport will be made at a cabinet airports sub-committee meeting next week it has been reported. A cabinet meeting was held today to discuss the landmark decision on aviation capacity.

The BBC says ministers are set to be allowed to express their personal views on whether Heathrow gets the green light for a third runway, or Gatwick gets the nod to construct a second. An option also exits to lengthen an existing runway at Heathrow.

An artist's impression of Gatwick Airport with two runways
An artist’s impression of Gatwick Airport with two runways

UK Prime Minister Theresa May is reported by the BBC as saying a decision on increasing airport capacity had been delayed too long and it was in the “national interest” that the UK makes a call now.

Many commentators have speculated that Heathrow will be backed as recommended by the Airports Commission last year, due to the economic benefits of expansion, its vast connections and the boost it would give exporters to emerging markets, as the Government looks to ‘make Brexit a success’.

Among those supporting expansion at Heathrow are the Freight Transport Association, British International Freight Association, regional airports including Liverpool and Newcastle, and the Scottish Government. Those backing Gatwick include Birmingham Airport and some regional gateways.

Heathrow handled 126,109 tonnes in September and 1.1 million tonnes in the first nine months of 2016. Gatwick handled 6,608 tonnes in September and in the last 12 months has handled 74,795 tonnes.