Several proposals to improve the capacity of UK airports are currently vying for supremacy. Most representatives of the air cargo industry advocate the expansion of Heathrow while the Mayor of London has submitted three different schemes. The Davies Commission, an independent body headed by Sir Howard Davies, has been tasked with determining the best way to meet Britain's future airport needs.
Heathrow Airport has submitted three runway location options to the Commission, any of which it says could produce a direct air cargo benefit of £2 billion to £3 billion. It is estimated that a third runway at Heathrow would cost between £14.3 and £17.6 billion and provide between £50 and £156 billion in UK economic benefits after opening in 2025.
Johnson's proposals comprise a four runway airport on an artificial island in the Thames Estuary, a similar development on the isle of Grain on the south side of river Kent and an expansion of Stanstead Airport, in the north-east of London. He has made grander claims about his options, saying that they could provide 375,000 new jobs and add £742 billion to the value of goods and services produced in the UK. But Heathrow has retorted that a new Thames Estuary airport would not be operational before 2034 and could cost £70 to £80 billion, over a third of which would come from the tax payer.
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air hub at Heathrow
In support of expanding Heathrow rather than either of the London Mayor's options, the airport has claimed that 202 of the UK's top corporations are headquartered within a 25-mile radius of Heathrow, and that expanding the airport would protect 114,000 local jobs and create 70,000 to 150,000 more.
Corin Taylor, senior economic advisor for the UK's institute of Directors, supports the third Heathrow runway proposal. He said, "Expanding Heathrow is the best way to solve Britain's airport capacity conundrum. It is quicker and cheaper than the other options... Britain will miss out on the trade we need with high growth parts of the world unless we urgently expand our hub capacity".
The Freight Transport Association has stated that Heathrow is "the best case for a London hub airport" expressing its disappointment that the importance of air cargo remains underplayed in the debate.
Source: Air Cargo Week