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Lesley's Column

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7th November 2016

Hooray for Heathrow expansion!

After years of dithering and hundreds of reports and consultations Heathrow will go ahead with a third runway – or at least that’s the intention.

The chief benefit of an expanded Heathrow is the number of additional destinations worldwide that will be directly accessible from the airport.
The airport will be able to offer daily flights to around 40 more destinations, including 10-12 long-haul routes. Crucially for business travellers, Sir Howard Davies, Chair of the Commission, has put much emphasis on providing access to destinations in emerging markets.
This is my understanding of what happens now. Building of any description will likely be held up by years of legal battling over noise and environmental considerations. And a judicial review of the government’s decision doubtless be sought by opponents of a third runway at Heathrow.
Then there is the compulsory purchase of some 750 homes that will have to make way for the new runway. No doubt this will be a long and complicated process. The original estimate for the cost of these compulsory purchases a decade or so ago was expected to be around £0.5bn but is now closer to £1.5bn.
There could be considerable cost implications to the airlines and they are rightly anxious that landing fees may rise in order to cover the costs.
The third runway at Heathrow is expected to take 10 to 15 years to complete.
Gatwick fought a strong campaign to be allowed to build a second runway. The airport is by far the busiest single runway airport in the world and it is likely that both Gatwick and Birmingham will pursue second runways in the not too distant future.