Business chiefs in the capital are calling for an increase in flights at Heathrow as a short-term solution “to the UK’s air capacity crisis”.
The London First organisation is recommending greater noise protection for Heathrow residents and for Gatwick and Stansted to be freed from economic regulation by the Civil Aviation Authority.
In the absence of any long-term strategy to build new runways, priority must be given to finding ways of increasing flights through more intensive use of existing runways, according to London First.
It estimates that Heathrow could support 10% more flights while reducing delays, and that Gatwick and Stansted could attract more airlines and passengers if existing price controls were abolished and the quality and capacity of rail services to both were improved.
The demands come in London First’s submission to the government’s Airports Commission which will make its final report to in summer 2015.
London First chief executive Baroness Jo Valentine said: “We face fierce global competition from rivals who are increasing their air links to new and established markets. In the absence of a long-term plan for new runway capacity to meet that threat, we have no choice but to make the assets we have work more intensively.
“Action is needed now. The Commission must recommend how more flights can be introduced where the market wants them. We think the cap on flights at Heathrow can be lifted, and residents protected from noise, and Gatwick and Stansted deregulated to let London’s competitive market flourish, extending choice and services.
“Without decisive action and the changes we recommend, the growing economic cost of deferring new runways – already too great – will not be halted.”
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