London Heathrow still reigns as the busiest airport in Europe, but airlines and airport operators there warn that without expansion plans in place, Heathrow could lose its status as the preeminent European hub in the next 15 years, the Telegraph reports.With just two runways, industry professionals predict, many airlines would likely abandon London for fast-growing airports like Frankfurt or Amsterdam, leaving Heathrow a mere “branch line” on the vast tree of European air travel.Cameron’s government, though, seems content to ignore the demands for the addition of a third runway, stunting the growth of traffic and discouraging airlines based in Heathrow from expanding to more destinations.
Willie Walsh, chief executive of IAG, the BA parent, is lending his support to the campaign. He said: “I have seen no evidence of the Government appreciating the importance of aviation to Britain.”“The rest of the world is securing infrastructure to ensure they can grow their economic while Britain has done the opposite. We need action by the Government and I’ve seen none. I fear for the future.”
Air travel to and from Heathrow (and to a lesser extent Gatwick, Stansted and Luton) is one of the best things London has going, and it’s perplexing to see the government opposed to any long term plans to ensure it does not outgrow its facilities and lose traffic to nearby alternatives. Just one additional runway can drastically increase Heathrow’s capacity and make it an attractive place to connect smaller routes to the already well-established main lines that flow through every day. London’s economic success relies in no small part upon Heathrow’s air traffic success. For centuries London was a crossroads of world travel, culture and business because of the determination of its merchants and politicians to keep the port working and the seas free.London’s rivals like Frankfort and Paris are pressing their governments to use their weight in the EU to strip London of its position at the center of European — and therefore to a large extent of world financial leadership. It’s a shame that NIMBY activists at home are collaborating de facto with Britain’s rivals abroad to turn London from a bustling hub into one of Europe’s many genteeling declining post-imperial capitals: the Vienna or the Venice of the west.