Heathrow - 3rd runway

MQT on 2013-05-22
Session date: 
May 22, 2013
Question By: 
Murad Qureshi
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Following completion of the sale of Stansted airport and the resulting break-up of BAA's private monopoly of airports in and around London, do you agree with me that a third runway would stifle competition amongst London airports?


Answer for Heathrow - 3rd runway

Answer for Heathrow - 3rd runway

Answered By: 
The Mayor

While competition between airlines brings clear consumer benefits, the question of competition between airports is more complex, at least as it relates to connectivity, that is, to the range of destinations served and the frequency of flights. London's and the UK's future economic prosperity depends on access to a comprehensive network of cities all over the world. There is reason to believe that two "competing" hubs serving one city could lead to less connectivity than a single large hub. The Airports Commission considers this question in its recent discussion paper, "Airport Operational Modes", and the Mayor will be responding in the coming weeks.

Besides, in a global market, Heathrow is not only competing with Gatwick and Stansted; it is also pitting itself against north European hubs such as Paris Charles De Gaulle, Amsterdam Schipol and Frankfurt, as well as airports further afield such as Dubai and, in due course, the large new airport planned for Istanbul.

In the meantime, competition between airlines to serve the London market is severely impaired by Heathrow's capacity crisis, with airlines having to wait many years and pay large premia for slots at Heathrow, which is the closest thing we have to a hub airport and which is where larger airlines therefore want to be. And for reasons I have explained repeatedly, Heathrow cannot be allowed to grow. Instead, a new hub airport, ideally to the east of the capital, rather than expansion of Heathrow, is the right solution

Irrespective of its consequences for competition, a third runway at Heathrow would not deliver what the UK needs in terms of additional hub capacity and, based on DfT forecasts, would be at capacity at the time it opened.

A new four runway hub serving London and the south east would offer a world-class facility where a wide range of airlines would have the opportunity to serve a full range of destinations. It is the only way to meet the future needs of London and the UK and to ensure a level playing field with our competitors.