The Anonymous Widower

Does Brexit Mean We Need More Runways?

I ask this question, as after I wrote Changing Sides, I’ve had some thoughtful comments.

In 2015, there were seven airports that handled over ten million passengers.

  1. London Heathrow – 74,985,748
  2. London Gatwick – 40,269,087
  3. Manchester – 23,136,047
  4. London Stansted – 22,519,178
  5. London Luton – 12,263,505
  6. Edinburgh – 11,114,587
  7. Birmingham – 10,187,122

In addition, there are airports like Bristol, Cardiff, East Midlands, Glasgow, Leeds-Bradford, Liverpool and Newcastle, that can take a significant portion of regional traffic.

I can add these comments.

  • Manchester is taking traffic from other airports in the North and Scotland.
  • In a decade or so, a very high speed rail link could enable Liverpool to provide extra runway capacity for Manchester.
  • Birmingham will be on HS2 within a decade.
  • Manchester will get HS2 within two decades.
  • Six of the top seven airports are getting improved rail links.
  • Glasgow is just off the list in eighth, but does Scotland need two airports in the Central Belt?
  • Cardiff is not the busiest airport and was in fact 20th.

The Airports Commission said we need another runway in the South East, but will Brexit change matters?

I have this feeling that, Brexit could mean that we actually see more air-routes opening up.

Consider.

  • The British will always love their holidays in the sun.
  • The UK will always be a destination for tourists and a low pound courtesy of Brexit will help.
  • If the regions of the UK get more independence from London, they’ll probably look to attract more visitors.
  • On past form, the City of London will survive Brexit, just as it did the Great Fire and the Blitz.
  • Brexit could be an excuse for building more runway capacity.
  • People love setting up airlines to lose their fortune and those of others.
  • Infrastructure like railways and trams will make some airports, easier and more affordable to use.
  • Travellers will get more savvy.

On the other hand, the low-cost airlines seem to be saying that traffic to and from the UK will be a lot lower and they are moving aircraft out of the UK.

I have no idea what will actually happen, but we may see some surprising things. I said this earlier.

In a decade or so, a very high speed rail link could enable Liverpool to provide extra runway capacity for Manchester.

Consider.

  • The Shanghai Maglev Train has a top speed of over 400 kmh and a length of 30 km.
  • Liverpool and Manchester airports are 50 km. apart.
  • Liverpool Airport is alongside the Mersey.

Even if this doesn’t happen, we’ll certainly see many airports expand and be easier to use.

The debate on where the South-East gets extra runway capacity has been enlivened by Gatwick saying that if Heathrow is chosen, then they’ll build a second runway anyway.

Consider.

  • Building a new runway at Heathrow will need extensive works to the M25
  • Gatwick has the space for a second runway and has already shown possible runway, terminal and rail railway station designs.
  • Gatwick is already a well-connected rail-hub.
  • Both airports will be connected to Farringdon by modern high-capacity rail links.
  • Cameron promised no third runway at Heathrow and his election still defines the make-up of Parliament.
  • Most Londoners don’t like Heathrow.
  • Heathrow probably couldn’t build a third runway, if Gatwick got the Government’s blessing.

We could see the Government give Heathrow their blessing, but Gatwick builds a new runway as well.

Surely two world-class airports for London, would show that a post-Brexit Britain was open for business.

I think many London residents like me, living away from Heathrow, would accept an enlargement at both airports.

You can envisage these scenarios.

Heathrow Gets A Third Runway And A Sixth Terminal

If this was the decision, the following would or could happen.

  • The opposition would be vocal and possibly violent.
  • Every legal experts in the field would keep the Courts going for decades.
  • The moving of the M25 would paralyse the traffic to the West of London for at least a decade. Remember Terminal 5!
  • All of the hassle would frighten investors away from a post-Brexit UK

Gatwick would build a second runway anyway.

Heathrow Hub

Heathrow Hub is the independent proposal shortlisted by the Airports Commission. Wikipedia describes it like this.

Heathrow Hub proposes extending both of the existing runways up to a total length of about 7,000 metres and dividing them into four so that they each provide two, full length, runways, allowing simultaneous take-offs and landings. The aim is to complete the construction within five years and with 100% private funds.

Available capacity would be doubled while keeping a percentage of the slots unused in order to alter noise levels. In addition, early morning flights could land much further west along the extended runways so reducing the noise footprint for a large area of west London.[5] Other noise mitigation techniques include using two-stage approaches, and steeper, curved climb-outs.

The Heathrow Hub concept includes a new multimodal air, rail and road interchange located approximately two miles north of Heathrow’s Terminal 5 to accommodate passenger growth. This includes a new terminal, a new railway station connecting Heathrow to the West Coast Mainline and Crossrail and direct access to the M25 motorway.

 

This image from the Heathrow Hub web site shows the layout with just the Northern runway extended.

Heathrow Hub Runway Proposal

Heathrow Hub Runway Proposal

Note.

  • The M25 would just needed to be put in a tunnel, as has been done at Schipol.
  • The Southern runway could be expanded later to provide even more runway capacity.
  • As aircraft will get smarter and be able to fly more precise paths, more noise will be kept within the larger airport boundary.

With my project management hat on, I believe that the building of the rNorthern Runway extension, a new terminal and all the connecting infrastructure could be built without disrupting the operation of the current Airport.

Heathrow Hub is the joker in the pack and it could be the surprise choice.

But I doubt it.

  • The opposition would still be vocal and possibly violent.
  • Every legal experts in the field would keep the Courts going for decades.
  • Heathrow Airport wouldn’t like it, as they didn’t think of it.

Although, in a post-Brexit world, it could make sense.

Gatwick Gets A Second Runway

In some ways this is the option with the least amount of hassle.

  • The opposition at Gatwick would be much less, than choosing Heathrow.
  • There would be no traffic disruprion at Heathrow.

But Heathrow would probably fight the decision in the Courts.

I also think, that Heathrow will never give up on expansion, as there is just too much investment in the airport.

Both Airports Get An Extra Runway

This could be the Judgement of Theresa!

  • Heathrow would extend the Northern runway, as detailed in the Heathrow Hub proposal, with perhaps another rail-connected terminal between the runways.
  • Gatwick builds a second runway and appropriate terminals.

Consider.

  • The current two-airport strategy works for London.
  • Heathrow and Gatwick will soon have much-improved rail connections with an interchange in Central London.
  • Both rail journeys to Central London will be around thirty minutes.
  • Both runways could be built without disrupting the existing airports.
  • Once the M25 is covered, Heathrow can extend the runway and gets the space for more terminals.
  • Few properties would be demolished at either Heathrow and Gatwick.
  • Those living around Heathrow would suffer less noise.
  • A second runway fits Gatwick’s plans.
  • Airlines can choose their best location as capacity increases.
  • At least two runways at both airports, surely increases safety.

But the reason, I like this option best, is that it future-proofs, the airports in the South-East for a very long time.

It also creates true competition between the two airports and that can only be to the benefit of the airlines and their passengers.

This article in the Independent is entitled If Gatwick and Heathrow both build extra runways, it could mean the UK becomes future-proofed.

Add future-proofing to my list.

Conclusion

I said we should be prepared for surprises about airports.

I stand by that!

 

 

 

October 9, 2016 - Posted by | Travel | , ,

3 Comments »

  1. Manchester airport is already close to capacity I think – it is very very busy. Yes, it does take some from traffic from other local smaller airports, but some of that is a 2 way thing. Where I live, south Manchester, I can get a bus to the airport from literally across the road, and be there in 20 minutes. But a lot of people, including neighbours of mine, choose to fly from Liverpool to European cities, because Liverpool Airport is smaller, easier for finding your way around, and for drop off, and easier to park, and isn’t far at all. I could drive there in 25 minutes. I could drive to Manchester in probably 15 or 20 – the airport turn off is 7 or 8 minutes away, the extra time is finding way to correct terminal and finding somewhere to park. And we don’t want a third runway we had enough palaver over the 2nd runway.

    Regarding Scotland, a decent airport in NW Highlands would be good. Nephew lives in a tiny village on NW coast, has to use various forms of transport to get to Inverness, and then usually fly to Edinburgh. I suspect many many people are flying into Edinburgh and Glasgow to get to other UK and European cities, and so improving some of the smaller airports in Northern Scotland might be worthwhile.

    Comment by nosnikrapzil | October 10, 2016 | Reply

    • Admittedly, I don’t drive anymore, but only idiots drive to an airport an leave there car in a car park for two weeks.

      Ten years ago, when we lived in Newmarket and were going on holiday from Heathrow, it was easier to get a bus from two billages away, direct to the airport and then probably have lunch after going through securiity.

      Now, I can get to London’s three main airports for a maximum price of £6, with Heathrow free! Although, the last time I went from Heathrow, I got a mini-cab as checkin was five in the morning.

      When you have large airports, you can generally pick your flight to suit your circumstances.

      Your nephew’s problem is because Scotland is too Edinburgh-Glasgow centred. But I think there are plans to make it easier to get from all over Scotland to Edsinburgh and Glasgow by train.

      Comment by AnonW | October 10, 2016 | Reply

      • It is surprising how many people do drive to airports; A few years ago people were driving to the general area around the airport, and leaving their cars in hospital car parks, pub car parks, and on side roads, then called in taxi. But in the case of people have friends drop them and collect them, which with the ease of getting there isn’t too difficult, the drop off points are now a good distance away to. Ditto collection points. With the internet we can follow flights landing and, and leave to pick them up when the flight tracker showed that luggage was in the carousel. Literally you could pick up at the door of arrivals. But that is long gone. Regarding the nephew, his other problem is he works out the cheapest way to travel down to the last penny, and uses the cheapest way even if it costs him more on food and coffee etc than he saves n actual costs, because it takes him so long to get places.

        Comment by nosnikrapzil | October 12, 2016


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