Firms ‘could quit UK’ if Heathrow was shut

Firms ‘could quit UK’ if Heathrow was shut

Mr Johnson has denied that closing Heathrow would cause businesses problems as it would be replaced with a newly developed urban centre providing new jobs and housing.

“Expanding Heathrow is the quickest and most financially viable option for delivering new airport capacity in the UK,” said David Sleath, chief executive of Segro, which includes leading British companies such as Rolls Royce among its clients. “From speaking with these companies it is clear that they back expansion to support their growth plans. The uncertainty surrounding Heathrow is not good for businesses and could affect long term investment decisions in the UK.”

On Tuesday, Gatwick revealed details of its own submission to the Commission, saying the airport would be able to provide enough international connections to solve the UK’s connectivity needs “for a generation”. The submission argues that Britain’s aviation logjam would be resolved in the most “affordable” and “sustainable” way through a “constellation” of two-runway airports.

Under Gatwick’s plans, Heathrow would not be closed down but would not be allowed to expand to three runways. Instead, additional runways would be built at both Gatwick and Stansted to cope with extra demand for flights.

Gatwick says other major cities such as New York, Tokyo, Paris and Moscow are served through a network of airports rather than one dominant hub. They handle a greater number of passengers than rivals that rely on a single hub airport with multiple runways.

A second runway at Gatwick could be built for between £5bn and £9bn, according to the submission, and would be funded by the private sector. Investors could even meet the cost of road and rail upgrades, which would stretch to “several hundreds of millions” of pounds.

Under an agreement struck in 1979 with West Sussex County Council, Gatwick has agreed not to start work on a second runway until 2019. However, if its plans are approved by the Government, the airport says the first planes could take off from a second runway in 2025 and the South-East would have sufficient capacity “until the 2040s”.

Gatwick plans to put a second runway to the south of its current site on land that has been safeguarded since 2003. It has suggested three possible lay-outs, including spacing the two runways at least 1,035 metres apart and using the controversial system of “mixed mode” – allowing planes to take off and land on each of the two runways. This system has been vigorously opposed at Heathrow.

Between 50 and 100 homes would have to be demolished to make way for a second runway at Gatwick compared with between 850 and 2,700 at Heathrow.

Gatwick could accommodate between 67m and 87m passengers by the 2040s, up from 34.2m today, , the submission says. By contrast, Heathrow, which saw 70m passengers pass through its doors in 2012, says a third runway could boost capacity to 130m passengers a year.

Heathrow last week proposed building a third runway to the north-west or south-west of its current site, at a cost of £17bn and £18bn respectively.

Mr Johnson, who backs a new airport on the Isle of Grain in north Kent, argues that only a four-runway super hub will provide sufficient long-haul connections.

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