Despite recent comments from the Prime minister, Heathrow Airport is ploughing ahead with its plans to expand. The company is set to submit planning for expansion later this year and they want full government backing.
So, what is the planned expansion and why has Boris Johnson potential scuppered the airline’s plans?
What is the planned expansion?
The planned Heathrow expansion includes the addition of a third runway. The company’s plans for expansion were announced last year and sustainability was revealed to be at the heart of the new plans.
According to Heathrow, the new expansion would generate 10,000 more apprenticeships by 2030, provide new routes and create up to 180,000 new jobs. However, the planned expansion caused heated debates after it was announced due to some of its proposals. These included lowering the M25 motorway, re-routing rivers and building additional car parks to house 50,000 cars.
It is certainly a bold expansion which has been met with a lot of opposition. However, the benefits it would provide to the economy would be significant.
Why is there doubt over its implementation?
Doubt over the implementation of the new expansion has been cast after Boris Johnson gave the go ahead for the HS2 project. However, the prime minister has previously expressed his opposition to the airport’s expansion, claiming he would “lie down in front of bulldozers to stop the construction”.
Now that Johnson is Prime minster, Heathrow airport need his approval if they are to continue with the proposed expansion. Given his previous stance on the matter, it is unlikely they are going to receive full government backing later this year.
The benefits the expansion would provide
So, what benefits would the third runway provide at Heathrow airport? Well, it wouldn’t just benefit passengers taking trips abroad. It would also benefit the air cargo sector.
The airport has been running at 98% for the past decade. It is the biggest air freight airport in the UK and the expansion could further boost its air freight capacity. This would be crucial in terms of international trade, something the country now has to secure since its exit from the EU. It would boost the air cargo sector enormously, delivering a lot of great benefits to the country.
As well as the air freight sector, the airport would be able to add thousands of additional flights to its schedule. It is said that this will also increase competition, allowing passengers to secure cheaper, more competitive prices.
Whether the new expansion will go ahead later this year is uncertain. It does seem unlikely the government will back the plans, particularly given how much they are now spending on the HS2 project. However, that isn’t stopping Heathrow from continuing on with their application.