ITM recognises that the UK requires an aviation policy which balances the economic benefits of aviation with its environmental and community impact. However, the issue surrounding expansion has been debated for many years without any clear decisive action whilst other countries have not been so hesitant. Successive governments for their own political gain have failed to address the most fundamental challenge facing the aviation industry, namely the pressing need for increased airport capacity.
The current capacity constraints, particularly in the South East, are hurting the UK’s aviation industry, damaging the many businesses reliant upon it; this is also holding back investment in the UK and negatively impacting upon the whole of the UK economy. It is now time for politicians to take some tough decisions.
On 25th October 2016, the Government finally approved a third runway at Heathrow and dismissed for the time being expansion at Gatwick. ITM supports this move and believes a second runway at Gatwick will probably be needed too in the medium term. ITM also support the planned expansion of London City Airport and mixed mode operations where this is a viable alternative (departing and landing on the same runway)
A public consultation will now be held on the effects of airport expansion before the government makes a final decision as part of a national policy statement on aviation. MPs will then vote on that decision in the winter of 2017-18. It is unlikely that any new runway capacity would be operational before 2025. Construction is not likely to begin until 2020 or 2021, the Airports Commission has said.
Finally HS2 (London-Birmingham high speed line) must be connected to Heathrow (as was originally planned) so that the UK can have an effective integrated rail & air transport policy that exists in places like Germany. This will allow people to step off long haul or short haul international flights and connect to the North of England and even Scotland when rail times come down further. Crucially in addition, fewer short haul flights means more slots can be released to increase long haul flight capacity further.