Airport Capacity in London

Date published: 
29 April 2013

The Transport Committee’s report, Airport Capacity in London, was a result of an in-depth investigation involving airlines, environmentalists, business leaders and other aviation experts. The report suggests existing airport capacity in London, including at Heathrow and Gatwick airports, could be used more effectively.

Research commissioned for the London Assembly showed:

Stansted Airport: 47 per cent of runway slots are available

Luton Airport: 51 per cent of runway slots are available

Gatwick Airport: 12 per cent of runway slots are currently available

Heathrow Airport: at 99 per cent capacity, Heathrow’s runway capacity is nearly full, but some evidence submitted suggests increasing aircraft size would allow it to increase capacity

The report also shows improving transport access from central London to Gatwick, Luton and Stansted could encourage them to move to another airport. Stansted Airport Ltd suggested that it could attract 1.5 million more passengers per year if the rail journey time from London was reduced from 45 to 30 minutes.

Airport capacity in London (report by the London Assembly) from LondonAssembly

The report also feeds into the debate on need for a hub airport. 127 million people used London’s airports in 2010 and most, including those using Heathrow, flew direct – point to point – to their destinations (78 per cent) rather than use the airports to transfer, which may question arguments for the need for an additional hub airport to boost London’s economy. Seventy-five per cent of flights from Heathrow, the UK's only major international hub airport, are short haul and London remains the best connected European city across the 23 fastest growing economies.

In addition, runway constraints at Heathrow and other airports might not be the reason for fewer flights to emerging economies, but – as new evidence commissioned for the report shows – postcode preferences by local passengers

The Transport Committee's findings will be submitted to the Government’s independent Airports Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies.

The Committee identifies the following specific issues for the Commission to address:

In its interim report on future aviation needs, the Airports Commission should set out how it has taken into account the importance of local demand in determining how airlines use airport capacity.

In its interim report, the Airports Commission should show how existing airport capacity in London should be used more effectively including at Heathrow.

If the Airports Commission finds that there is a need to increase airport capacity, it should rule out the expansion of Heathrow airport as an option.