View Full Version : Gutless Goverment?

Ddraig Goch
11th Dec 2015, 07:41
From the BBC news this morning:
Business groups have reacted with anger to the government's delay in reaching a decision on whether to build a third runway at London's Heathrow Airport.
The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said it was "gutless", while another group said it would have business leaders "tearing their hair out".
They argue that the delay is bad for the UK economy.
But opponents welcomed the government's plan to wait for further environmental research before making a decision.
No decision will be made before the summer of 2016, it was announced on Thursday.

Are they gutless or do they really care about the environment?

11th Dec 2015, 07:59
It's just political maneuver. The conservative London mayor candidate is against it
A cynic might point out it helps them out of a political hole. Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith said he would resign and force a by-election if they picked Heathrow. But he'll be tied up with the London mayoral election, which is to be held on 5 May 2016.
and they don't want to announce that before the election.
One could infer that the decision will be Yes, but they will wait until after the election pans out.

11th Dec 2015, 08:00
Are they gutless or do they really care about the environment?

Totally gutless.

It's got nothing to do with the environment, it's about career politicians thinking of their careers rather than making tough decisions for the good and prosperity of the country they are supposed to be running.....so, they'd rather play the 'kick the can down the road' game instead....

11th Dec 2015, 08:09
You don't even have to ask the question. Yes, they are totally gutless. All they have to do is make a decision &, after I don't know how many years & enquiries, they are unable to do so.
Pitiful & pathetic !

11th Dec 2015, 08:10
Neither another runway at Heathrow nor the absurd HS2 rail scheme have much public support - and the government knows that only too well.

A second runway at Gatwick, plus a direct fast rail connection to Heathrow, might be the better solution? But the connection must be a lot cheaper than the ridiculous prices for the 'Heathrow Express' or 'Gatwick Express'....

11th Dec 2015, 08:16
Re aircraft noise.
A simple non scientific impressive test on how noise levels have and will continue to be lowered.

Heathrow expansion: Plane spotters take 'blind test' - BBC News (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-35040657)

A few days ago one of the many Heathrow departures that fly over my home caused me to look up. It was a BA Dreamliner. it was so quiet compared with others.

Perhaps the population of London and surrounds should view this video clip.

11th Dec 2015, 08:34
If you asked most politicians to find Gatwick they'd be stumped. It is after all outside the M25 and may as well be on the moon.

They've probably been talking to the 'experts' as well. The experts who decided any new runway could be shorter because 'aircraft take-off using full power'....:*

old,not bold
11th Dec 2015, 08:41
It would be amazing if a decision is ever made; even if it is it will be reversed within a year or two.

I did a lot of work on the Maplin Sands proposal as a relatively junior number-cruncher; it was blindingly obvious that it was the best option, and remained so after balancing the environmental impacts of closing LHR in favour of Maplin Sands. But the Government of the day couldn't make its mind up and so we did nothing.

And have done nothing ever since, except patch new bits on to LHR usually about 10 years after the demand figure passed the figure the new patch was intended to serve. The great Charles Stuart (BA, Brymon) made a compelling case in about 1986/7 for a 3rd (2000m or so) LHR runway to remove regional aircraft from the long existing runways. I'm proud of helping with the technical aspects of that case, in a small way. The proposal came up against a brick wall of resistance to change, which still exists today. (London City came about as a result of his getting nowhere with the 3rd LHR runway proposal.)

Fast forward to 2003, and the £100m study into London airport capacity that was grandiosely and misleadingly entitled "The Future of Aviation". That kept an army of consultants, including me, rolling in s**t, sorry, gainfully employed for about 4-5 years leading up to its publication. Every aspect of the problem was exhaustively looked at, calaculated, weighed up etc etc. Every conceivable option was examined and kicked into touch. The end result, assisted by the 26 staff BAA embedded in the DfT, was to build another runway at LGW, STN and LHR, but now necessarily now, and not in that order, and, by the way, not at LHR until a solution was found to the air quality impact. Which it has not been, of course. This solution could have been, and probably was written on a fag packet as the inevitable outcome before any work was done. BAA ruled, and this was what they wanted.

(One of the best, quickest and cheapest solutions, a 2000m runway at Redhill, 100% privately funded, parallel with LGW with 8 minute overland transit to LGW North Terminal was kicked into touch smartly by BAA, aided and abetted by a complaisant NATS. It could have been open and operating by 2008/9. The way it was dealt with showed just how corruptly the UK Government really works).

The "Future of Air Transport" was put in a drawer and forgotten by the Labour Government the day after it was published. Nothing new has been added to the body of information about London airport capacity, except that as time goes on relocating the principal hub airport of the UK, as should have happened in the 1970's, becomes increasingly difficult.

So here's a prediction. Politicians will continue to bicker about it until the present system of air travel, ie charging down miles of concrete with larger and larger thrust supported contraptions running on fossil fuel and polluting the atmosphere, is replaced by something new and totally different, say in 50 - 100 years time.

The UK has not completely lost the ability to firstly decide on, and then execute a major infrastructure project. But it can only do that with interminable delays, changes of mind, political interference and so on; Crossrail illustrates all of that while being a fantastic engineering achievement. For the foreseeable future, the bickering about London Airport capacity will continue with facts, half-truths and lies from all sides, and LHR will grow at a slower and slower rate with small incremental capacity increases, about 10 years after they are needed.

11th Dec 2015, 08:52
Forget about a third runway at Heathrow; it's not going to happen within the next ten years and, even if it happens, it won't be a popular move.

Forget about a second runway at Gatwick. It's not going to happen within the next ten years and, even if it happens, won't be a popular move.

Don't even bother looking at Stansted.

Forget about HS2; it's not going to........etc, etc.

Why can't the UK take a leaf out of the Germans' book. They have two major international hubs. One in the south, Munich, and one up north, Frankfurt.

All this focus on Heathrow and Gatwick overlooks the fact that there is a well established two runway international airport "up north" in the UK. Why not use up some of the runway capacity at Manchester. You never know, it might obviate the need for more runways in the south east and blow HS2 off the rails.

Hat, coat and waiting for incoming.

11th Dec 2015, 09:03
Unlike Germany, the majority of the UK population is in the south of the country making the requirement for additional capacity one for the south rather than the north.

Gatwick and Heathrow are at capacity now. Stansted may be an option for additional capacity but the reality is it should be Heathrow or Gatwick.

Heathrow already has major transport issues getting there. The roads are at capacity and the air quality is already well below where it should be. In addition, Heathrow want the taxpayer to fund the work required.

Gatwick has less of a capacity issue on the transport issue for getting there. Air quality is OK and they will pay for the work themselves.

Gatwick should get the runway and get it now as well as airlines being incentivised to use the regional locations such as Birmingham and Manchester for long haul operations.

11th Dec 2015, 09:15
The trouble is, Gatwick is already a disaster to get to for 95% of the population and that's only going to get worse as traffic increases.

Agreed with earlier comments; gutless shameful non-decision which is costing the industry and country dearly.

11th Dec 2015, 09:22
It's a pity they ripped up the concrete at Greenham Common. Good road and rail connections as well.

11th Dec 2015, 09:23


Durham Tees Valley (RAF Middleton St George) and Robin Hood (RAF Finningley) are much, much under-used.

11th Dec 2015, 09:28
Meanwhile a 10,000' runway has stood unused in the south east while gutless local politicians spent two years shuffling the paperwork.
It's called Manston. It has a dual carriageway from London and with an extension, rail links all over the south east. A new runway at either Heathrow or Gatwick will take 10 years. Manston is there now and will be far cheaper.

11th Dec 2015, 09:28
Why not use up some of the runway capacity at Manchester. You never know, it might obviate the need for more runways in the south east

You have answered your own question.

The reason MAN has unused runway capacity is because all the airlines that believe they can make money on routes from there are already doing so.

11th Dec 2015, 09:42
At least 10% unused capacity at Heathrow.......simulations prove it. Too many local restrictions on airport operation limit potential. It suits some operators to have a cap on movements......more slots reduce slot value [and increase competition].

11th Dec 2015, 10:33
The trouble is, Gatwick is already a disaster to get to for 95% of the population

Which is why I said

as well as airlines being incentivised to use the regional locations such as Birmingham and Manchester for long haul operations.

11th Dec 2015, 10:37
All airports need to have surplus capacity if the operation is to be robust, because poor w/x or strong winds lead to flow restraints as there is need for greater separation. LGW tends not to have them as they alternate T/O & LDG and thus the separation is built in. A second R/W there would not double its capacity, just as a third R/W at LHR if it were ever built would not increase the capacity by 30%.
A country needs multiple communication links, the expansion of LGW would increase the UKs robustness and I believe the Freight capacity since it is closer to Europe and freight could flow back through the Channel tunnel as well into the heart of England

11th Dec 2015, 10:54
The reason MAN has unused runway capacity is because all the airlines that believe they can make money on routes from there are already doing so.

That observation has some merit, but might be better rephrased as "Some major Eurpoean-based groups do not believe that they can make money on routes from anywhere in the UK other than London".

Manchester seems to have a growing number of airlines offering long-haul services both east and west, with rapidly increasing premium cabin capacity to a range of destinations. Other airports outside the south-east are seeing similar growth, though perhaps not on the scale of Manchester.

11th Dec 2015, 10:55

I note your thoughts on population spread between south and north in UK making the case for another runway at Heathrow or Gatwick, although your comments about ground transport and air quality would suggest that neither is a viable option. Another factor to bear in mind is the degree of resistance to any development, especially at Gatwick which is located within a fairly wealthy semi-rural area. It is already being recognised that either development is a political hot potato and that's before the tortuous planning process gets under way. My thoughts are that ten years is a pipe dream.


I fear that Manston suffers from the same problems with transport links as Heathrow and Gatwick, only worse. Having been closed for a couple of years the resistance to development may prove considerable, and it doesn't exactly have an infrastructure.


I'm not sure that I have answered my own question. Perhaps the issue is that Heathrow has consistently been seen as "the jewel in the UK's aviation crown" with it being the "world's busiest international airport". For that reason it has been able to market itself as the gateway to the UK with airlines falling over themselves to operate from it. I don't think that it is the busiest international airport any longer, and nor is it a jewel. Increasing numbers of international transit passengers are avoiding it and whilst many from Manchester and other UK airports transit to Gatwick (although not by air), Heathrow, Dublin, Schipol, Paris and beyond to make their international connections, the overbearing emphasis on Heathrow has resulted in it being overcrowded and not a pleasant place to go to. The problem is to draw those passengers back to other UK airports. Airlines are there to make money, and if the major player at Heathrow sees that it has a market elsewhere and is losing money to competitors by focussing on London it may be forced to look northwards. Sadly, having minimised its activities at Manchester over the years I don't see their blinkers being removed.


You may perceive that the 10% unused capacity exists, but I don't see that it is capable of being used and that's before considerations of LVPs, strong winds and the inevitable loss of a runway due to an incident.

Final thoughts

Regardless of the implementation, or not, of another runway in the "more populous" part of the U.K., the issue is that it won't happen any time soon and for as long as demand for air travel increases and airports and airlines outside the UK see opportunities to develop their businesses they will take the money from UK Plc all the way to their banks. All of which knocks the Heathrow vs Gatwick vs anywhere else out of the arena.

Ian W
11th Dec 2015, 11:08
Some thoughts

Heathrow is a hub airport, that means airlines can use it as an interchange between long and short haul but also between transcontinental and transoceanic. They will move (and are moving) to other hubs if the capacity is not available. Telling passengers that they are going to fly into Heathrow then get on an hour long train journey to Gatwick/Stanstead/Luton or a 3 hour journey to Birmingham or Manchester will not work. You would not fly into JFK to pick up a connection at PHL. Nor will any SLF.

A European hub is a business operation, Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt, all want the traffic that is currently being refused slots at Heathrow. Heathrow will die if new capacity is not added. Leaving BA with its own private airport and the rest of the UK airports being regional feeders to the favoured hub in Europe. This is happening already ably assisted by the Governments Air Passenger Duty.

UK by geography is in a good position for transatlantic flights to interchange but with the longer range of the newer widebodies that is ceasing to be such an advantage.

A new airport can be built from scratch - i.e. from first design to operation in 10 years (as was the case with Hong Kong). An airport outside the 12 mile limit but inside the Thames Estuary with road/rail tunnel access to both North and South banks could have as many 'Mulberry harbour' type runways of whatever length as it wanted. No noise abatement problems, no continual overflights of central London, no planning issues outside the 12 mile limit apart from the North and South bank terminals. The South terminal linked into the TGV network. There could even be interchange with merchant shipping and river boats to central London. There is lots of money looking for a reliable long term investment more than enough for a private venture to be able to achieve full funding. The new SESAR/EUROCONTROL Step 2 plan envisages no air routes from TMA exit to TMA entry so the current mass of air routes will cease to exist around the time that the airport would go operational if started next year.

This should not be a government decision its a business and currently BA and Ferrovial are controlling the government for pure business reasons. BA (IAG) do not want any new slots at Heathrow as that could lead to more competition. I expect the can to be kicked down the road repeatedly on Heathrow. Then when a decision is made the planning battles will continue for decades.

11th Dec 2015, 11:36
Surprised the mods haven't moved this thread by now. :O

At least 10% unused capacity at Heathrow.......simulations prove it. Too many local restrictions on airport operation limit potential.

I don't think anybody disputes that measures like permanent mixed mode and relaxing/removing the night quota would increase capacity, it's hardly rocket science.

But the likely political fallout from those, measured on the "aggro vs benefit" scale, is the reason they aren't going to happen in the foreseeable future.

11th Dec 2015, 12:22
The UKPLC case for a new runway at Heathrow is compelling compared to the alternatives.

But no one can credibly explain how an expanded Heathrow will achieve legally binding air quality standards.

The day the report was published pollution levels on the Bath Road were four times EU limits.

In my industry a fatal flaw of this kind is called a silver bullet: you don't need to do any more thinking, the idea is dead.

11th Dec 2015, 12:45
But no one can credibly explain how an expanded Heathrow will achieve legally binding air quality standards.

The day the report was published pollution levels on the Bath Road were four times EU limits.

The problem with that argument is how can you quantify what is attributable directly to Heathrow, and what is passing commuter traffic that is trying to avoid the jammed M4/M25 and other passing commuter routes into London and around Heathrow...??

11th Dec 2015, 12:50
Manston? First it's closed, then it's in one of the few spots in the UK that's worse to get to than Gatwick.

It's enormously irritating that this decision which is pivotal to all the UK is apparently based on what suits, or doesn't London's mayor and co.

..and how come air quality is suddenly an imperative. If that's really a deal-breaker why has nobody suggested restricting traffic on Bath Rd?

11th Dec 2015, 12:57
You don't have to attribute the pollution sources. Air quality in the area is already above legal limits. Would a third runway make it better or worse?

If worse, no third runway.

11th Dec 2015, 14:03
I thought that the only valid excuse for not proceeding with the Thames Estaury solution was bird strikes, but I do not know how serious a problem that would be.
Does anyone really know?
With the envisaged number of flights per annum, even a small statistical risk would generate quite frequent headlines.

The Ancient Geek
11th Dec 2015, 14:11
The simple fact is that LHR is in the wrong place and any of the alternatives in the southeast are inaccessible to most of the nation.

There is a solution which has not been given due consideration - build a complete new airport near BHX with 6 runways. Alter the route of the proposed HST link to pass through (under) the terminal and add motorway spurs from the M5 and M42. This can easily be financed by selling LHR to property developers who would rent the site to the existing user until the new airport is complete and then cover the site in nice expensive housing. Travel time from Paddington to this new airport by HST would not be much different to the existing rail route to LHR so not a problem.

LGW then becomes a regional airport for the southern part of the southeast with LTN serving those north of the thames.


The Ancient Geek
11th Dec 2015, 14:19
I thought that the only valid excuse for not proceeding with the Thames Estaury solution was bird strikes, but I do not know how serious a problem that would be.
Does anyone really know?
With the envisaged number of flights per annum, even a small statistical risk would generate quite frequent headlines.

This is only one of the problems. It would be incredibly expensive and even more inaccessible from most of the country than the existing airports.
Putting the nation's primary airport in the extreme southeast is just plain daft.

This was never credible, just an "anywhere but here" suggestion from Boris.

11th Dec 2015, 14:31
Ancient Geek. Probably the best "blue sky" thinking I've seen for a long time. In any other country we could go from your idea to fully functioning, inc. the rail and road links in 10 years. Being Britain, in 10 years the leaders will still be waiting to make a decision.

Heathrow Harry
11th Dec 2015, 14:47
face it - the opposition to just about any new runway in the UK is so high that no politician can stand up for it and get re-elected

The latest "study" conveniently ignored the pollution issue

The airline business does not help itself - every time more slots are created at LHR the number of destinations served drops and the extar slots are allocated to trans atlantic flights. People outside London see their connectivity at LHR disapearing.......

It's not too bad - we can use larger aircraft for the available slots, make more use of regional airports, divert shorthual to teh Chunnel

The Ancient Geek
11th Dec 2015, 15:24
Ancient Geek. Probably the best "blue sky" thinking I've seen for a long time. In any other country we could go from your idea to fully functioning, inc. the rail and road links in 10 years. Being Britain, in 10 years the leaders will still be waiting to make a decision.

Also consider the simplification of the current ATC congestion in the southeast, this is a serious problem which will not go away with extra runways and can only become worse.

Downwind Lander
11th Dec 2015, 15:43
I always favoured an artificial island in the Thames Estuary (right in the middle, not the Isle of Grain), built Kansai style (or like the Chinese in the South China Sea, who are causing aggravation). It would be expensive but the HS2 train could be scrapped since people can get to Brum 20mins earlier by setting off 20mins earlier. It would need some type of high speed hover type transport to get into central London.

11th Dec 2015, 15:54
It would need some type of high speed hover type transport to get into central London.

Fairey Rotodyne (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9633v6U0wo)?

Or this (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFk5Y_F-dwg) . . .

11th Dec 2015, 16:05

Why can't the UK take a leaf out of the Germans' book. They have two major international hubs. One in the south, Munich, and one up north, Frankfurt.


As the crow flies it's further from Frankfurt to Hamburg than Frankfurt to Munich. Would we have a major hub at East Midlands or L&B?

Aluminium shuffler
11th Dec 2015, 17:03
It'll never happen. It's political suicide, regardless of how needed it is. Of course, capacity can be hugely increased without another runway - bin the curfew and it'll increase capacity more than adding the runway. Cite the lower noise of modern equipment versus the noise of types in use when the curfew was implemented, and restrict the curfew hours to the quietest types as an alternative to the runway and see what Londoners go for, but give them the choice of one or the other, not neither.

11th Dec 2015, 17:58
Of course, capacity can be hugely increased without another runway - bin the curfew and it'll increase capacity more than adding the runway.

That's nonsense.

R3 would add around 240K ATMs per year to the existing 480K capacity. That equates to around 650 daily movements.

The night quota operates for 6½ hours, from 23:30 to 06:00, so that would require 100 movements per hour.

Apart from the fact that LHR can't sustain anything like 100 movements/hour, how many routes do you seriously think would support arrivals or departures in the middle of the night?

11th Dec 2015, 18:22
As I understand it one of the reasons for expanding Heathrow is the lack of fast passenger links between Heathrow and Gatwick or Stansted... but does a slightly longer journey time matter so much for freight? How much freight goes through Heathrow? Would it be possible to move the freight traffic to another airport to increase the passenger capacity at Heathrow?

11th Dec 2015, 18:37
One issue is that the government is already in trouble for not meeting pollution targets..

Air quality in urban areas: Key issues for the 2015 Parliament - UK Parliament (http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/research/key-issues-parliament-2015/health/air-quality-in-urban-areas/)

... in February 2014 the EU Commission began infraction proceedings against the UK. These could take several years and could result in the UK Government being fined. Should this occur, it would be the first time the UK Government has been fined by the EU for breaching legislation.

If the government just pressed on regardless their decision could be challenged in court. It probably will be anyway but a lengthy legal challenge will make a 6 month delay seem short.

11th Dec 2015, 18:54
Another fix :

1. All long haul traffic to go from Heathrow

2. All short haul including Europe etc to go from Gatwick, Luton etc.

The Government say they cant do this because they do not control slots at these 'private airports'.

If the above was instituted there would be no need for any extra runways.

11th Dec 2015, 18:59
How much freight goes through Heathrow? Would it be possible to move the freight traffic to another airport to increase the passenger capacity at Heathrow?

No, but it's a common misconception.

Freight flights at LHR on a typical day can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

Almost all cargo that passes through Heathrow is carried in the holds of passenger aircraft.

11th Dec 2015, 19:16
Lets have a look from aircrew perspective. Do you really want to be Heathrow based. What with astronomical property prices and rents, what is the effect on disposable income. What about FTL, clock ticking away whilst snarled up in traffic jams. Third runway means increase in traffic capacity and that`s not just the runway, maintenance, catering, handling and road traffic as well. Along with the new runway, best build a few ugly high rise monoliths to house air crews, airport workers and not least of all graffiti artists.
Look what the Turks have done, the construction of a brand new 21st Century airport to handle 150 million passengers annually, is nearly completed for Istanbul before you can say wibble. If we were to have a go, there would be a big fuss as to what kind of celebrity is to pick up the first shovel load of muck and the laying of a trillion of traffic cones would take at least a half a century. By the time the whole thing is done and dusted we would all be using the beam me up Scotty method and the damn thing will be obsolete.

11th Dec 2015, 19:30
Back to the original question .... Gutless ? A resounding Yes Political games played in preference over National need

11th Dec 2015, 19:47
Heathrow expansion: British Airways threatens to move out of UK (http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/heathrow-expansion-british-airways-threatens-move-out-uk-1532835)

11th Dec 2015, 20:01
Willy Walsh's comments are a tad misleading. Of course BA are going to move out of Heathrow - by far their biggest and most profitable hub and where they have grandfathered slots worth millions of pounds. There is only one stakeholder WW and IAG care about and that's IAG and IAG alone. Its self interest and rightly so in business. Opening up the airport to easyJet and all-comers threatens British Airways very existence, especially on short haul.

"Heathrow is not IAG's only hub. We can develop our business via Madrid, which has spare capacity, and Dublin, where there are plans for a cost-effective and efficient second runway".

I'm surprised IAG's "operations" don't currently reside in Dublin anyway due to the number of aviation organisations already based in the country due to their considerably attractive business rates.

As for Madrid, Iberia suffers from overcapacity, a relatively poor reputation for service and its biggest market struggling to stay afloat in the Eurozone.

11th Dec 2015, 20:09
People want to fly into LHR. If BA moved out the void would soon be filled and they know it. This is just WW trying to protect BA's position as the main player at the airport.

As for building a new airport elsewhere and putting houses on the Heathrow site? Tens of thousands of people within a wide area around LHR work at either the airport or businesses that rely on the airport to survive. Closing Heathrow would have such a detrimental effect on that whole area. It isn't going to happen. Crossrail will go to Heathrow, the western rail access tunnel looks like it will go ahead. a second world class terminal has recently opened.

Heathrow isn't going anywhere. It needs better transport links and these are being upgraded eventually. It also needs the new runway and hopefully this will eventually go ahead.

Regarding the environmental concerns and air quality. We are talking about an opening date of around 2030 depending when someone actually makes a decision. The A380's and Dreamliners will be close to getting retired off by then. Aircraft, cars, trains, buses etc will all be far more economical. How can current air pollution levels be a factor when the timescales are so long?

Add to this the reduced stacking of aircraft awaiting landing slots and the fact that the plan, should it go ahead will allow the hub and spoke operation across the UK, using lower numbers of larger aircraft to operate the long haul services and be fed using efficient short haul aircraft from the regions.

Genghis the Engineer
11th Dec 2015, 20:38
Here's a thought?

What about Northolt?

Put in a monorail between the two, built a decent pax terminal there, move a lot of the smaller A320/737 sized jets there.

De fact you then have a third LHR runway, without having to bulldoze anything.

Not that I don't also think that the government is spineless for refusing to make a decision. Even if that decision was Boris Island or a 2nd runway at LGW - at least the industry could then start planning for it.

The big issue is the lack of a decision.


11th Dec 2015, 21:26
What about Northolt?

Existing runways would cause aircraft to cross the flightpaths of those using Heathrow,

11th Dec 2015, 22:04
What about Northolt?

Existing runways would cause aircraft to cross the flightpaths of those using Heathrow,

I guess so.

From an earlier thread:

The Captain of the Pan Am B707 which landed at Northolt instead of Heathrow was (allegedly) asked by ATC for his intentions. "I guess I'll take up Chicken Farming" was the reply.


Picture of N725PA departing RAF Northolt here:

Boeing 707-321, N725PA, Pan American World Airways (PA / PAA) (http://www.abpic.co.uk/photo/1001607/)

The Northolt 'state intentions' story was still part of Pan Am lore three decades later along with that of Captain 'Fifi' Miler habitually stealing the inflight cutlery and his wife periodically returning it.

12th Dec 2015, 06:02
Another fix :

1. All long haul traffic to go from Heathrow

2. All short haul including Europe etc to go from Gatwick, Luton etc.

Uhh - how does this work, exactly? My last return trip, as SLF, involved BA LFPG-EGLL (short) and BA EGLL-KDEN (long).

As it was, we barely caught the second flight - even with a 1.5-hour layover - in the same terminal.

Are you really proposing that we'd have had to fly to Gatwick, exit the secure area, cross London, repass security - just to fly two legs with the same carrier? How many hours would that take?

Anyway, as a Yank, far be it from me to offer advice. Just some observations.

Denver got a big, new, greenfields airport 20+ years ago. Mostly because it was the Mayor's own baby (Federico Peña, later US SecTrans), and he had the political clout and connections at all levels of government (local, state, federal), and was willing to cash them in, to get it done.

About like Ancient Geek's proposal - 6 runways.

(We are only now (well, Spring 2016) getting the rail connection, after 20+ years - but we know the US is a desert as regards passenger rail).


1. We literally had green fields (well, yellow) - 300-500 miles of nothing but wheat farms between us and the next big city (depending on how you define "big" - Topeka or Kansas City).

Which was good, because given the requirements for long runways (5,280-foot-elevation plus summer temps nudging 38°C makes for - interesting - density altitudes); and wide spacing (specs called for the capability to handle 3 simultaneous ILS approaches), the present KDEN would more or less fill the whole area between BHX and the outskirts of Coventry (53 square miles).

The first doesn't apply to London - the second might.

2. There was a reasonable positive economic argument in favor of the new airport. Not just more traffic to Denver, but as a hub, more jobs as United and Continental (as was) moved more people through Denver.
Seems like, for London, expanded airport capacity is more a question of keeping up than jumping ahead (which I mean as a compliment - London is already and will always be a world-class City, with or without new airport capacity - Denver needed the help.)

I don't see that there is a better solution, given that the UK is full right up with people, hedgehogs, castles and chalk men, than expanding Heathrow. Someone's ox gets gored, in any case.

And (back to the thread title) it will take someone to be a political sugardaddy and make it his or her mission to push that through, expending political capital as needed.

Cows getting bigger
12th Dec 2015, 06:37
Roskill presented the (sensible) options in 1971 with Buchanan disagreeing and the Maplin Development Act being passed in 1973.

Democracy at its best. :sad:

Aluminium shuffler
12th Dec 2015, 08:08
You're very arrogant and aggressive person, David. Ever been told that?

There would be plenty of demand for night slots - a lot of airports around the work have peak times in the middle of the night.

I think increasing capacity at LHR is nigh on impossible. Transport links and parking are already a problem. Any method of increasing flights is going to run into legal challenges, whether it be extra runways, changes in operating hours or anything else, especially if the air quality issues are correct.

LGW is ripe for expansion, but is too remote, as are STN and Manston. LTN would have been a good choice - good geographical position, close to the M1 and A1 and the main rail route through London and LGW. A new apron and terminal to the south of the existing runway, with a second runway south of that, as per the plans a decade or so ago, would work. There is already a lot of improvement going into the road links, the M1 has already been widened and the area involved is countryside, not town. Stevenage might be unhappy and Luton Hoo would suffer noise increases, but everyone else would win. The biggest issue would be the rail link, which could be sorted I'm sure.

12th Dec 2015, 09:04
There would be plenty of demand for night slots - a lot of airports around the work have peak times in the middle of the night.

And your solution to squeezing the 100 movements per hour onto two runways that would be required for your assertion "bin the curfew and it'll increase capacity more than adding the runway" to be valid is ... ?

I'm sorry if your feelings have been hurt, but if you want to make wild claims like that then it's a good idea to see if the numbers add up first, which they demonstrably don't.

good egg
12th Dec 2015, 10:09
Lets face it almost all other 'major' UK airports already connect to the European hubs. This has already effectively diluted demand for using EGLL as a hub (albeit demand is still above capacity - thereby 'forcing' people to fly from those other UK airports via European hubs to their destinations).

The dithering over a decision combined with the amount of time any solution would take to build means that this situation will continue.
Perhaps the dithering is actually benefitting the other UK airports by using their capacity to meet passenger demand. This could also assist in building the economies of regions outside of London through better connectivity.
The other London airports (EGSS, EGGW, EGLC) have seen some pretty astounding increases in flights & passengers this year. However, given the dithering over the big decision, will these airports still have any spare capacity in 15 years time? In the interim shouldn't we be unlocking available capacity at these airports (increasing terminals, building aircraft stands, etc.)?
I foresee a gradual shift to more business pax, paying higher fares, through EGLL (& EGLC) with the other London airports absorbing more of the leisure pax. Regional airports will start to increase both business & leisure pax.
Maybe it's not such a bad thing environmentally too. More smaller, lighter, short-haul flights spread over a number of London & regional airports?
Leave our European neighbours to deal with most of the heavy long-haul stuff?

Four Turbo
12th Dec 2015, 10:33
In all the years of New Airport talk I have never seen Fairford mentioned. Long runway (Concorde), near the M4, close to the GWR railway line. Green fields all around, together with masses of people in Bristol, Swindon, etc etc. There must be a problem??

12th Dec 2015, 10:44
Manston is there now and will be far cheaper.

The reality is that Manston was available for years, and the interest shown by airlines in that time was virtually nil. That tells it's own story.

One thing that seems to have been overlooked is Heathrow's deep rooted integration with the regional economy. Obviously it generates a lot of direct employment. But it also supports a lot of secondary industry serving freight and passengers, and then you have to consider the businesses that have located themselves in the Thames Valley area due to proximity to LHR. Heathrow isn't just a couple of runways and terminal buildings that can simply be replicated in a bigger and better fashion elsewhere. There's a massive amount of infrastructure, real estate, employment, expertise and economic activity many miles beyond the perimeter which is inextricably bound to Heathrow, most of which isn't mobile.

For all it's imperfections, I'm starting to wonder whether Heathrow is the only game in town.

12th Dec 2015, 11:24
The Airports Commission examined proposals in respect of pretty well every alternative solution to the hub capacity issue that was remotely feasible (and many that weren't).

So the answers to all those "What about [insert name of favourite airport]?" questions are readily available in its evaluation reports, freely downloadable from the AC website.

From memory, the Commission supported the concept of "reliever" airports, and Manston was mentioned in that context, but purely as short- and medium-term options. They were not considered to be solutions to the long-term capacity/connectivity issue.



Ancient Observer
12th Dec 2015, 12:24
The technology does not exist to remove the air pollution from Thiefrow. Not only does it not exist, it is not on the horizon.

So a third runway at LHR is not going to happen, unless they close the M4 and M25.
Whilst the BAA folk buried in the DfT might not agree, LHR will not expand in the next 20 years.

I think we need to be brave, now, and start building Boris Island and the new airport.

Downwind Lander
12th Dec 2015, 14:00
Genghis opines in #47: "What about Northolt?"

The main objection is CO2 and pollution in the London area, not only from a/c but also from all those people turning up in their taxis and cars.

The former could be addressed by the work NASA has done on using hydrogen in gas turbines, if only there were to be a way of storing it without either pressure vessels or refrigeration. Progress continues. The latter could be dealt with using legislation.

old,not bold
13th Dec 2015, 10:49
Yeah, yeah, Northolt, Luton, Fairford, Filton, Manstone, Birmingham, Manchester, Greenham Common, Woodbridge/Bentwaters, Southend etc etc all have features favouring them as possible relief airports for the South-East.

Except demand. Well, OK Northolt would qualify if it weren't for all the insuperable problems of developing Northolt, whose owner I sat next to giving evidence to Gwynnith Dunwoody's Select Committee in its inquiry into London's airport capacity, which coincided with the 2003 White Paper.

But how about a 2000m runway (plus full RESA etc) parallel to LGW, about 7,500m to the North? It could have been up and running by now. For all I know it's still in contention. It would have been totally privately financed, have a fast rail link to London (linked with Crossrail), direct access to M23, and 8-minute transit to LGW for connecting traffic.

Its capacity, allowing for some noise restriction, would be at least 125,000 ATM/year.

It was defeated, of course, by the usual British mix of resistance to a new idea, dishonesty on the part of public officials and politicians pursuing a different agenda than the pubic good, undue influence of very wealthy individuals, and commercial self-interest at the expense of everything else.

I mentioned it in a previous post, so I won't bore you again with the name. But wouldn't it have been nice to have it up and running today?

Genghis the Engineer
13th Dec 2015, 11:11
Just playing with a thought experiment and a few internet sources.

Is there enough capacity at the London airports collectively? Just everybody wants the spare capacity to be at LHR, where it isn't.

On that basis - is the real need a high speed - surface or underground - secure (so potentially airside) transport system between the major London airports?

Could the city that is arguably best in the world at building and running underground railways do something like this?


(Sorry can't seen to get the image to embed, you'll have to click on it)

By my reckoning the fastest current tube trains could do the longest slices of that in an hour - faster than you used to get through security.

Downside is that that diagram would require about 250m of tunnel - or about the length of the current underground system. That, apparently would cost around £90bn. That's really quite a lot of money and doesn't compare well to £19nm for the new Heathrow runway + infrastructure.

Okay, let's simplify it...


That's about 79 miles, just it'll now take a couple of hours to get from LGW to STN. Cost around £28bn - similar order of magnitude to the LHR runway.

Would that do the job, keep everybody happy, and be environmentally efficient?

I'm just thinking onto the keyboard here by the way, not offering a serious proposal. Unless it turns out to be a brilliant worldchanging idea, in which case I'm delighted to take all the credit. :cool:


13th Dec 2015, 13:11
It was defeated, of course

In case anyone is wondering why:


Downwind Lander
13th Dec 2015, 13:37
I admire your optimism, Genghis, if you hope to pursue anyone to build even 79 miles of tunnels. Remember the Channel Tunnel debacle? That is only 22 miles.

Maybe Elon Musk will provide his solution:

It might be attractive to him, being a very high visibility project. If he were to, there might be a knighthood in it for him.

13th Dec 2015, 13:46
The weakness of any mass-transit system is the risk of terrorist activity, requiring 'security' that will obstruct rapid transfers.

It would be nice to have a high-speed 'tube' that would whisk passengers from one airport to another within 'minutes', but the current political climate (terror, not government) would negate the benefits.

13th Dec 2015, 14:19
Not to mention leaves on the line, the wrong kind of weather, power cuts etc. There are too many thing that could go wrong.

Heathrow Harry
13th Dec 2015, 16:04

near the M4 and GWR??

20 kms at least from either and Swindon in the way..................

old,not bold
13th Dec 2015, 16:11

In case anyone is wondering why:Perhaps I'm being dim, but what's your point?

Genghis the Engineer
13th Dec 2015, 16:41
On the whole I think that if the government decided that what we should have is a network of horse drawn carriages between airports, or to re-open Lyneham as a new hub, or a northern hub at the former RAF Macrihanish - the industry and wider community can make that work for the benefit of the whole UK.

Various people here have made suggestions that are more sensible than anything I've posted in the paragraph above :}

The problem we have is that HM government, like the previous coalition government, or like the labour government before that - simply are too scared to make a decision. So, they keep kicking it into the long grass - and I'd be willing to place a modest wager that next summer they'll try and do that again.

What the UK needs, and is not getting it from a succession of feeble minded governments, is a bit of clear leadership. We could then bicker happily in the background about whether the solution a government decides upon is optimal or not - and almost certainly we would (and the environmental lobby definitely will, and quite right too, that's their job!). But, with that decision, everybody can work towards maximising exploitation of the situation presented.

But, no decision, no progress. That is where we are.


Doors to Automatic
13th Dec 2015, 19:03
Why can't all aircraft under 150 seats be redirected into Northolt? All it would need is a pier with a 3-4 mile underground link to T5 and maybe T2.

Hotel Mode
13th Dec 2015, 19:25
Northolt has a tiny hourly capacity on easterlies (Effectively zero in poor weather) due to LHR approaches.

1600m isn't very long for any kind of range either.

The airports commission looked at all these options. They simply aren't practicle.

Trash 'n' Navs
13th Dec 2015, 19:52
For those offering alternatives to LHR/LGW (especially those touting MAN), I thought I'd post the AC TOR because having read the recommendation, I reckon ALL of these have been considered (and discounted for one reason or another).


Terms of reference

The purpose and objectives of the Airports Commission

The Airports Commission will examine the scale and timing of any requirement for additional capacity to maintain the UK’s position as Europe’s most important aviation hub, and it will identify and evaluate how any need for additional capacity should be met in the short, medium and long term.

It should maintain a UK-wide perspective taking appropriate account of the national, regional and local implications of any proposals.

It should engage openly with interested parties and members of the public, providing opportunities to submit evidence and proposals and to set out views relevant to its work.

It should seek to engage with a range of stakeholders, including with local and devolved government as well as the opposition, to build consensus in support of its approach and recommendations.

The Commission should report no later than the end of 2013 on:
• its assessment of the evidence on the nature, scale and timing of the steps needed to maintain the UK’s global hub status; and
• its recommendation(s) for immediate actions to improve the use of existing runway capacity in the next 5 years – consistent with credible long term options

The assessments and recommendations in the Commission’s interim report should be underpinned by a detailed review of the evidence in relation to the current position in the UK with regard to aviation demand and connectivity, forecasts for how these are likely to develop, and the expected future pattern of the UK’s requirements for international and domestic connectivity.

Its assessments of potential immediate actions should take into account their economic, social and environmental costs and benefits, and their operational deliverability. It should also be informed by an initial high-level assessment of the credible long-term options which merit further detailed development.

The Commission should report no later than summer 2015 on:
• its assessment of the options for meeting the UK’s international connectivity needs, including their economic, social and environmental impact;
• its recommendation(s) for the optimum approach to meeting any needs; and
• its recommendation(s) for ensuring that the need is met as expeditiously as practicable within the required timescale.

The Commission should base the recommendations in its final report on a detailed consideration of the case for each of the credible options. This should include the development or examination of detailed business cases and environmental assessments for each option, as well as consideration of their operational, commercial and technical viability.

As part of its final report in summer 2015, it should also provide materials, based on this detailed analysis, which will support the government in preparing a National Policy Statement to accelerate the resolution of any future planning applications for major airports infrastructure.

No Fly Zone
14th Dec 2015, 02:06
By the time the debaters in/near London get the third RWY designed and built, it will be time to begin the debate about Number FOUR! Or, migrate even more long haul traffic to the suburban airports.
London's geographic location is convenient for SLC, but unless the ultimate destination is the UK, connecting in Europe is usually a far smarter idea. Even for those flying well beyond Europe, flying (shopping/buying) with our feet will eventually get their attention. Another substantial reason to bypass the UK entirely is those truly abusive 'departure taxes.' IIRC, they apply to all SLC, even those simply in transit. A'dam, several points in Germany and France and a handful of others provide improving transit connections, better facilities and a far more pleasant experience for the transit passenger. My personal favorite when the connection is viable, remains Munich. While the Germans may get puckered a bit too tightly about security details, at least they are POLITE about it. The UK used to be polite, but much of that has changed in the last 8-10 years. Those frequently transiting the UK also recognize that they have become more that a little sloppy about the details. In recent years, if my destination is within the UK, I aim for one of the suburban airports. If headed elsewhere, I connect elsewhere. :sad:
---Long retired driver still interested, but really little more than a Frequent Flyer

14th Dec 2015, 07:50
Another substantial reason to bypass the UK entirely is those truly abusive 'departure taxes.' IIRC, they apply to all SLC, even those simply in transit.

If you mean APD, most transit passengers are exempt,

15th Dec 2015, 20:10
How many remember that Gatwick was intended as just an alternative to Heathrow when Heathrow was fogbound

15th Dec 2015, 20:23
You're right, dave APD doesn't apply to transit pax but otherwise No Fly has hit the nail; people WILL bypass the UK if it means struggling through a congested, outdated, poorly-connected airport and they'll take their business investment, tourism and money elsewhere.

Trash 'n' Navs
15th Dec 2015, 20:43
Must be talking about LGW....

16th Dec 2015, 09:48
An example being tactical TEAM at Heathrow. No new infrastructure at all, just a change to procedures across the day and you get uproar.

Uproar that's entirely predictable, given that the published alternation programme leads communities to expect 8 hours' respite from overflying aircraft, which in practice rarely happens.

16th Dec 2015, 19:57
Why should air quality be a blocker when it isn't for any other form of transport? Figures for road traffic have been many times permitted levels for ages without attracting much comment.

16th Dec 2015, 20:46
London have restrictions on polluting vehicles (starting with the Congestion Charge (https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/congestion-charge))
Goods vehicles are regulated:-
If you want to drive a lorry, bus, coach or other specialist heavy diesel vehicle in the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) without paying a daily charge, it needs to meet certain emissions standards. (https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/low-emission-zone/check-if-your-vehicle-is-affected/hgvs-lorries-buses-and-coaches)

16th Dec 2015, 20:49
May be so but most vehicles aren't in those categories; how many roads have been closed despite levels in many cases four or more times the limit?