Wednesday, May 12, 2010

No Third Heathrow Runway?

The newly formed Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, with David Cameron at the helm as Prime Minister, has pledged to scrap plans to build a third runway at London Heathrow Airport.  See Dan Coombs, Conservative Lib-Dem Coalition: No Third Runway, Uxbridge Gazette, May 12, 2010 (available here).  From the story:

A landmark coalition agreement between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats has included a pledge to scrap the third runway at Heathrow.

The confirmation came in the form of a seven page A4 document, outlining the key policies, agreements, and concessions made by both parties in the wake of a hung parliament following last Thursday's General Election.

. . . .

One of the Conservatives pre-election pledges was to deliver on their campaign against the runway and sixth terminal at Heathrow, which would have lead to the destruction of 700 homes in Sipson and Harmondsworth, and an increase in flight activity around West Drayton.

The coalition agreement confirms, in bullet point format: "The cancellation of the third runway at Heathrow", and "the refusal of additional runways at Gatwick and Stansted."

While this is no doubt good news for environmentalists and other critics who were skeptical that an increase in Heathrow's capacity would bring concrete economic benefits to the United Kingdom, it will no doubt strike a sour note with international air transport industry.  According to Airports Council International's 2009 statistics, Heathrow was the busiest airport in Europe and the second busiest in the world (behind Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport).  Moreover, competition for takeoff and landing slots at Heathrow has markedly increased since the 2007 U.S./EU Air Transport Agreement removed access restrictions to the airport for U.S. carriers.

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