Hub airport proposals
There are a number of potential sites for a new hub airport located to the east of the Capital, including in the Inner Thames Estuary.
Find out why a new hub airport is the best solution in the ‘Gateway to our Future’ report on the Aviation page in Publications & reports.
On that page you can also read the Mayor’s three hub airport proposals and a number of detailed technical reports in support of the Mayor’s three submissions.
In September 2014 the Airports Commission, the body set up by the Government to advise solutions to the airport shortage, ruled out recommending a new, four-runway hub airport. The Commission will present its final recommendation to the Government in 2015, who will then either accept or reject its proposals.
The Mayor believes the Commission was wrong to rule out building a new airport in the Thames Estuary and continues to make the case for it as a long-term solution to the UK’s airport capacity needs.
TfL’s rebuttal of the Airports Commission’s decision not to shortlist an Inner Thames Estuary option is on the Aviation page in Publications & reports.
We are now working with the Airports Commission as it considers plans for expanding Heathrow and Gatwick, to ensure that the impacts of expansion on London, and in particular the transport network, are fully accounted for.
What is a hub airport?
A hub airport is one that airlines can use as a transfer point between flights – where travellers moving between airports change planes en-route to their destinations.
For a hub airport to work effectively, it needs a strong catchment area and be able to support passengers and cargo that transfer between flights.
Why we need a new hub airport
To increase capacity
A lack of hub airport capacity is limiting the number of places that can be reached from the UK. Each year, millions of passengers are forced to fly via other European airports to reach destinations in Asia and South America.
Additional capacity is necessary to minimise delays and ensure resilience when services are disrupted. It also means flights can be organised in waves of arrivals and departures, making a wide range of flight connections as quick and easy as possible.
A new hub airport with four or more runways could accommodate more than 150million passengers per year by 2050, meeting passenger demand fully, while honouring the UK’s climate change commitments.
A new hub airport can be compatible with the carbon emissions targets set by the independent Climate Change Committee.
To boost the economy
London’s economy and ability to compete as a global city depends on access to a global network of flights. This in turn relies on a fully-functioning hub airport.
Foreign-owned firms created 42% of London’s economic growth between 1998 and 2004 and investors from other countries contributed £52bn to London’s economy in 2008 alone.
A new hub airport in the Inner Thames Estuary would be able to serve more destinations more often, meeting the needs of business and leisure travellers and helping sustain trade and the tourism industry. By 2050, the new airport will deliver a GDP boost worth £92bn for the UK. This contrasts with £59bn and £22bn for the respective expansion proposals at Heathrow and Gatwick.
More flights within the UK
Flights from the UK’s main hub airport to UK regional airports have dwindled as capacity has become more stretched. Since 1990, 11 domestic routes to Heathrow have ended making it much more difficult for businesses in places like Cornwall to trade internationally.
A new hub airport in the Inner Thames Estuary would reverse this trend with research indicating that by 2050 eight regional airports would have new direct flights to the new airport.
To support family ties
About one-third of London’s population was born overseas and many more have connections outside of the UK. Maintaining links with family and social networks is essential to those who live or work in the Capital.
The Airports Commission is looking in more detail at proposals to build a new runway at either Heathrow or Gatwick.
According to the Department for Transport’s figures published in 2011, projected demand for Heathrow is sett to more than double to 2050 – an increase of more than 100mn passengers per year.
Catering for this demand would require significant expansion at Heathrow – not one but two new runways on a site that faces acute space constraints.
Of all the people in Europe currently affected by aircraft noise, almost one-third (725,000) are affected by Heathrow. TfL estimates that an additional runway at Heathrow would increase that number to in excess of one million.
Heathrow also has severe air quality issues.
Increased numbers of passengers using the airport would place additional pressure on the transport network serving the airport. This would require major investment in new road and rail capacity, including the widening of the M25.
The Mayor believes that the environmental and logistical challenges mean that Heathrow expansion is practically and politically impossible to deliver.
If a new hub airport were built, Heathrow would close on the existing site. Several cities, in different countries, have relocated their major airport successfully.
Redeveloping Heathrow would provide the opportunity to create new homes and jobs. Studies show the site could support 90,000 jobs and 80,000 homes for around 190,000 new residents.
Building a second runway at Gatwick is a more achievable than expanding Heathrow, but would provide far fewer benefits.
It would not relieve the hub capacity constraint the country is facing, instead continuing the dispersal of capacity across the South East.
We estimate that as much as £10bn would need to be spent to improve motorways and provide sufficient rail capacity alone to an expanded Gatwick.