Heathrow today put forward a “compelling case” to maintain its hub status as part of the UK’s airport capacity review, according to Virgin Atlantic.
The ‘One Hub or None’ report by Heathrow to the Davies Commission warned that the lack of capacity at the airport is costing the UK economy £14 billion a year in lost trade and could rise to £32 billion by 2030.
Heathrow’s report was prepared for the airport by consultants Frontier Economics and was commissioned to inform Heathrow’s response to the Davies Commission, but is not its formal submission.
The report says that the choice for the UK is not between two hubs or one, but one hub or none.
Only one airport can operate as a hub in the UK, Heathrow argues. The government can either do nothing and “let the UK fall behind competitors”, add additional capacity at Heathrow, or close Heathrow and replace it with a new larger hub airport.
Heathrow chief executive Colin Matthews said: “If anyone was still in doubt about the importance of aviation to the UK economy, today’s report should lay those doubts to rest.”
A Virgin Atlantic spokesman said: “This report makes a compelling case for a single hub airport to address the UK’s hub capacity crisis. We are sure the Davies Commission will find it a useful contribution to its thinking.
“The UK needs one hub airport, with sufficient capacity to allow the UK to be competitive and reap the benefits of the connectivity air transport provides. Whether that’s at Heathrow or elsewhere, is up to the Davies Commission and the government to decide.
“What they must recognise is that, unlike for other transport modes, it will be airlines and their customers who will pay for any new infrastructure. This means that new capacity will be built where businesses, holidaymakers and UK visitors most need it”.
The Davies Commission is expected to present an interim report to the government by the end of 2013, with a full report due in the summer of 2015 – after the next general election.