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Boris slams ‘glacial’ airport process

The mayor of London says he feels like he is “knocking my head against a brick wall” when it comes to Heathrow expansion and south-eastern air capacity.

Mr Johnson said he didn’t know why the government was kicking the problem into the long grass, and called Westminster’s “intermittent” interest “a real mistake”.

The mayor said a project to builld a new estuary airport would attract “a huge, huge prize” in public investment in ancillary transport links, regeneration to the East of London, and the possibility of a new port.

The so-called ‘Boris Island’ proposal for a new airport in the Thames Estuary was one of three sustainable possibilities, he said, in addition to developing another type of airport in the estuary and expansion of Stansted.

According to Mr Johnson, a planning and construction process of between six and eight years on improving London’s aviation capacity means that no solution will be completed until 2026 or 2028, in what he predicted would be “a miserable and protracted battle” resulting from “repeated government failure to take action early enough”.

“I don’t believe the problem is finance”, the mayor told a press conference in London’s city hall, “I think it’s political will”. He added that “there’s no time like the present”, and that the risks of inertia were “huge”.

“No European country is being so blind and so complacent – we’re missing out on opportunities around the world, we’re failing to attract inward investment.”

“We’re losing business, we’re losing jobs, we’re losing time.”

Mr Johnson welcomed the Davies commission examining airport capacity, but warned against losing ground to rivals in Europe and elsewhere, pointing to larger airports in France, Germany and the Netherlands.

“There’s no reason to go on for three years discussing this,” he said.

On the proposals for a third runway at Heathrow, Mr Johnson said: “I say to my friends in Ferrovial, I say ‘forget it, it will not be built’”.


Readers' comments (3)

  • So what Boris wants is an airport where it wont effect his chances of re-election (outside of London)?

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  • I don't understand why everything appears to centre around London in this "lets cram it in" philosophy. It is my belief and that of many football fans that our national stadium was rebuilt in the wrong place at Wembley and tradition got in the way and it happened anyway. HS2 has been steamrolled through by the Government against enormous and continued protest (for the record I am pro-HS2 and live a mike from intended route). Why can't Birmingham airport have another runway? There's enough Land to do it! It would not impact on the already stacking system if air traffic in the south east. The government is already pushing through HS2 which is intended to speed transport link between the capital and the second city. We are in danger of isolating the south eat in its own self importance.
    It seems to me that unless the government puts forward the idea then they against all other options as this would show them as completely inept.
    Birmingham is crying out for another runway as its being strangled with its own lack of capacity.

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  • Dave - A high percentage of Heathrow's revenue comes via its operation as a Hub airport, hence the need to have capacity in one place for transit passengers. If you were flying from say New York to Milan (and lets assume that there wasn't a direct flight available), would you prefer to fly from JFK to Birmingham, go through customs, collect your luggage, then get the train from Birmingham to Heathrow, then deposit your luggage, then go through customs, then fly from Heathrow to Milan, or would you prefer to fly from New York to an airport in London, simply change flights in that airport without having to travel or go through customs or collect bags, and then simply fly from that same London airport to Milan. I'd be surprised if you did not choose the latter.

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