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The Traveller's Magazine
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London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, presented his proposal to build yet another airport in London, this time in the Thames Estuary. 5 airports aren’t enough, but does London actually need another one?

Yesterday the mayor addressed both business and aviation leaders about his master plan. He believes that the only way to fight the ever-worsening economy is to build another airport to serve the south-east of England. He presented convincing evidence that both London and the UK in general would benefit from another flight hub in order to increase aviation capacity with flights from London.

Thames Hub

The problem with Heathrow

Ah, LHR. At present, it operates at a 98% capacity and is considered the only hub airport in the UK. While the idea of expanding Heathrow was on the table before, that plan was scrapped. Heathrow is a major hub for transatlantic flights but airlines are opting for routes that stopover in Amsterdam, Paris and Frankfurt instead due to the ever-rising APD. If something doesn’t happen quick, Heathrow and London could lose its position. It cannot compete with airports in emerging countries like the Far East in terms of passenger numbers and services.

How does Heathrow compare to the rest of Europe’s airports?

  • Flights to China: Heathrow offers 9000 seats/week to two destinations. Frankfurt offers double that to four destinations. Amsterdam flies to six.
  • Shopping: Chinese tourists are spending less in the UK. Last year they spend £1.3 billion in France and only £115 million in the UK.
  • Connections to Brazil: Paris’ CDG offfers 56 weekly connections to Brazil, LHR offers 27.
  • Intl connections: 10 years ago LHR offered flights to 200+ designations, today it’s only 167. Paris CDG: 238, Amsterdam: 248, Frankfurt: 267.
  • Capacity: Experts at the Department of Transportation believe that London’s airports will reach capacity by 2030.

What is London to do? When citizens living in the Estuary region were asked about a new airport being built an astonishing number of them voted against it. Can the UK afford to built a shiny new £40 billion airport? The Thames Hub would be able to handle 150 million passengers per year with four runways.

Img: tasty_goldfish, AP / Flickr cc.

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