UK Government Continues to Delay Third Heathrow Runway

Photo provided by Heathrow Airport

Earlier this month the United Kingdom’s government, led by David Cameron, extended the delay on the announcement of a new runway in the Northwest portion of Heathrow Airport, leading to many frustrated figures inside politics and around the business industry.

Following the release of the Davies Commission in July, which was created back in 2012 to independently decide whether adding the new runway at Heathrow or Gatwick would bring in the most benefit to the country, Sir Howard Davies’ report pointed the finger to an expansion of Heathrow as being the most viable in regard to both economic and environmental aspects. However, on December 10th, the decision on whether to build a third runway at Heathrow had been officially delayed until at least next summer, allowing more time for reviews and arguments for a third runway – or to the alternative, being London Gatwick.

With London being an immensely populated city as well as a tourist destination, Heathrow’s two runways are currently operating at 99% capacity and have seen an uptick in increased delays. The airport is also in a difficult battle as other airports in Europe are racing to build bigger and more efficient facilities with the hopes of taking over as the largest hub in Europe. While London has longed served as both a destination and an effective transit city, increasing competition from airports in the Middle East such as Hamad International in Doha and Dubai International have further pressured the UK to take necessary action.

The delay does mean however that London Gatwick gets another shot of proving why the Crawley-based airport south of London should be given the expansion, causing more arguments and debates that supposedly the commission was created to settle and put to rest.

One would view this merely as a political maneuver to delay the decision, with the in-government Conservative Party previously avoided making a firm decision during its election campaign for the General Election last May, two months before the release of the report. It’s party leader, and now Prime Minister, David Cameron stated back in 2009 that “The third runway at Heathrow is not going ahead, no ifs, no buts,” during the 2010 election campaign to sway voters in West London and South East England. This quote has gone on to haunt him ever since discussing the decision.

To remove the political aspect from the decision being made, the Coalition Government in 2012 created the Davies Commission, which has now spoken of its backing for Heathrow. This leaves the in-power Conservatives, and David Cameron, in a very tight spot. A decision to go ahead with a new runway would be catastrophically damaging for the government, with critics and opposition parties highlighting the “backstabbing” and lies that would affect the people living near Heathrow, but a decision not to expand Heathrow would waste the millions of pounds spent on the independent commission to recommend an expanded airport, cause further delays, and upset some of the UKs largest companies and business figures. Ultimately while the government has not made a firm decision yet, it has become increasingly obvious that without a decision the United Kingdom will only fall further behind in its hopes of maintaining its status as the largest international hub airport in Europe.

James Dinsdale
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James Dinsdale

James is a keen aviation enthusiast from the United Kingdom. He has been flying since the age of 13 and today, aged 21, flies the Airbus A319/320 series for one of Europe's largest airlines.
James Dinsdale
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