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Heathrow’s Third Runway Announcement: The Winners

Photo: Heathrow Airport

Just over 24 hours since the UK Government finally put an end to the long and extended topic and made a decision to expand London Heathrow with an additional runway, the UK (and government) can now expect a long and tedious process before any construction begins.

In fact, our in-house poll currently shows that 37% of respondents expect the first aircraft to depart the new runway between 10-20 years. 35% predict within 10 years, while the remaining 28% anticipate that the runway will never happen due to legalities.

But without putting a downer on a landmark decision that has certainly excited the aviation community in the United Kingdom, here are the winners of the decision.

Heathrow Airport

Heathrow is, arguably, the ‘Mecca’ of civil aviation here in the United Kingdom. It boasts the most movements, the most routes, and the most airlines to operate out of an airport on the British Isles. Because of its global status as an intercontinental hub, expanding another airport over Heathrow would have been a very poor decision.

The airport already operates at almost 99% capacity. Airlines love Heathrow because of its connections, and the convenience that it brings to passengers traveling to London or through transit. The additional runway would increase the potential flights to 740,000 a year (2014-15 saw 474,000 movements) – on par with the likes of Frankfurt, Paris, and Amsterdam.

The economy

In a time where economic uncertainty dwells on the UK following a vote to leave the European Union, a decision to expand either Heathrow or Gatwick Airport will give a major boost to the UK economy, so it’s a thumbs up from the economists to the government for just making a decision.

According to The Airports Commission, who advised the government that Heathrow was the best option, the expansion will cause an estimate of £211bn in economic benefits for the UK economy. Also, up to 180,000 new jobs will be created by 2050. This would take a massive chunk out of the current UK unemployment figure of 1.8 million (August 2016) that the government prides itself on reducing.

Gatwick, on the other hand, would only add up to £127bn and around 49,ooo jobs should it be expanded- according to Your Heathrow.

Regional airlines and airports

38 Other UK airports have backed an expanded Heathrow. Heathrow pledged to increase the slot-availability for airlines operating regional routes should it be given the green light to expand, causing a certain Exeter-based airline to listen carefully.

The largest independent European airline, Flybe, spoke about how an expanded Heathrow was in their best interests. Outgoing CEO Saad Hammed said at the start of the month: “Flybe is heartened by the proposed plan announced last week by Heathrow,” he said. “It paves the way for us, as champions of regional connectivity, to jump quickly into action. I am confident we are now in a good position to explore the viability and commercial feasibility of introducing a number of critical new routes for domestic connectivity as soon as the new slots were to become available at Heathrow, to and from where many of our codeshare partners offer seamless onward long haul connections for regional passengers.”

Improved connections would also benefit regional airports around the country. This potential move by Flybe would dramatically improve connections between various locations around the United Kingdom and the worldwide routes served by Heathrow. Such airports include Liverpool John Lennon Airport, located in the northwest region of England.

Andrew Cornish, chief executive of JLA, said: “Heathrow is the UK’s hub airport. A route there would enable Liverpool to have onward connections to every continent of the globe as well as easy access to London.”

For passengers

The addition of an extra terminal (or two) will reduce connection times from 75 minutes to around 60 minutes. The addition of extra stands and slots allows for more routes to be added to the Heathrow departure board, benefiting passengers who currently may need to transit to another airport to get to their final destination.

The Airports Commission Chair

It would have been a personal embarrassment for Sir Howard Davies to be asked by Her Majesty’s Government to lead a commission to decide where expansion was needed, to spend three years compiling a final report, only to have the Government totally ignore its findings and recommendation.

To find more information on the recent announcement, have a look here. For the losers of the decision, click here.


  • Jack Dawin

    Jack is a keen aviation enthusiast from the United Kingdom. He has been flying since the age of 13 and today operates in the airline industry

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