CAA: ‘Air passengers will pay for new runway’

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Air passengers will pay £1 billion in additional fares over the next 15 years if there is no new runway for London, the Civil Aviation Authority warned yesterday.

CAA group director for regulatory policy Iain Osborne told an aviation industry forum in London: “There is no doubt higher ticket prices are a consequence of [airport] capacity constraints.

“Without building a new runway in the South East, consumers will suffer higher prices and more congestion.”

Osborne said: “We modelled [the impact of no new runway] and air passengers will pay £1 billion more by 2030 if there is no additional capacity.”

But he added: “Getting something built will require that people affected [by aircraft noise] are compensated and communities engaged.

“Capacity increase is good for consumers but it cannot come at any cost.”

However, Osborne warned there would be limits to growth in air capacity regardless of any airport expansion.

He said: “Without fundamental air space reform you can build as many runways as you like and they won’t be able to be used.

Osborne described air space as “motorways in the sky” and said: “We are on the brink of a technological revolution in air space.

“[The latest technology] can allow aircraft to climb [and descend] smoothly, fly in a straight line and avoid having to stamp on the gas and then stamp on the brakes. There are gains in this.

“But there are also limits. We may be able to ease congestion, but there are limits.”

Osborne warned that capacity expansion in the South East would inevitably mean restrictions elsewhere.

“You can’t have hundreds more movements into a hub airport and allow traffic to a regional airport,” he said.

Osborne was speaking at a Westminster Energy, Environment and Transport Forum seminar in London on The Future of UK Airport Capacity.

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