Heathrow expansion consultation confirmed

Heathrow expansion consultation confirmed

Transport secretary Chris Grayling today outlined the draft national policy statement on airports to enable Heathrow expansion.

It requires the airport to demonstrate it has worked constructively with airlines on domestic connectivity.

The government expects Heathrow to add six more domestic routes across the UK by 2030, bringing the total to 14.

The west London hub must provide compensation to communities who are affected by the expansion, including noise insulation for homes and schools, improvements to public facilities and other measures – this includes establishing a community compensation fund and a community engagement board.

The blueprint calls for measures be put in place to mitigate the impacts of noise, including legally binding noise targets and periods of “predictable respite”.

The government also expects a ban of 6.5 hours on scheduled night flights.

Specific “mode share” should be set to get more than half of airport users onto public transport, aimed at meeting its pledge of no more airport-related road traffic with expansion compared to today.

Heathrow must also implement a package of industry-leading measures to limit carbon and air quality impacts both during construction and operation.

It must demonstrate that the scheme can be delivered in compliance with legal requirements on air quality.

Grayling also unveiled a consultation on airspace policy to “harness the latest technology to make airspace more efficient as well as making journeys faster and more environmentally friendly”.

This will run alongside a new UK aviation strategy.

“This strategy will champion the success story of the UK’s aviation sector,” said Grayling.

“It will put the consumer back at the heart of our thinking. The strategy will also explore how we can maximise the positive role that our world class aviation sector plays in developing global trade links, providing vital connections to both the world’s growing economies and more established trading partners.

“Connections that will only grow in importance as our trading network expands.”

The consultations will last for 16 weeks and close on May 25.

“We expect to lay a final Airports National Policy Statement before Parliament for debate and an expected vote in the House of Commons by winter 2017-18,” Grayling said.

In response, Virgin Atlantic CEO Craig Kreeger said; “We support Heathrow expansion provided that it delivers for passengers a transformative increase in airline competition and genuine value for money.

We will study the government’s national policy statement to ensure its provisions do just that.

“Expansion is an exciting, once in a generation opportunity to significantly increase airline competition at the UK’s hub airport.

“When one airline group has a stranglehold on almost 60% of the slots at the airport, it inevitably limits the amount of competition that Virgin Atlantic and other carriers can provide.

“If the full benefits of the new runway are to be realised, new capacity must be allocated in a way that brings more choice, lower fares and better service for customers.

“We are pleased that the Government, the CAA and the airport are talking about the importance of affordability, but the devil will be in the detail and strict cost control is absolutely vital.

“With passenger charges at Heathrow already the highest in the world, it is simply untenable to increase them further to fund expansion.

“As tens of millions more passengers start using the airport when the runway opens, our customers would expect charges to fall over time to more internationally competitive levels.”

American Express Global Business Travel EMEA managing director Elyes Mrad said: “We are one small step closer. If the UK is to remain competitive on the international stage the extra capacity will be crucial.

“There will inevitably be opponents doing all they can to halt progress, and building work may not start for some time.

“But if Britain is serious about its future as a standalone trading nation – one which negotiates its own agreements outside the EU, the single market and customs union – it simply needs the space and flexibility to satisfy the demands of UK PLC’s travelling community.

“These are islands, and they are dependent upon connections by air and sea with the rest of the world.”

Dale Keller, chief executive of the Board of Airline Representatives in the UK said: “Today’s draft airports national policy statement is welcomed by our airline members as a pivotal point in unlocking progress on delivering a bigger, better and more affordable Heathrow that will best serve the future needs of our customers and the whole nation.”

British Airline Pilots Association general secretary Brian Strutton said:
“We welcome the government’s confirmed commitment to expanding Heathrow as recommended by the Davies [Airports] Commission.

“Decisions – and actions – on expanding airport capacity are long overdue.

“We are also pleased that the government has announced that it is preparing a new UK aviation strategy.

“Recognition of the role that aviation plays as a driver for the UK economy would be welcome.

“We also urge the minister to ensure that the skilled and dedicated people, including pilots, who make our vital industry tick are not forgotten, and, indeed, are put at the heart of his new aviation strategy.”

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