Former UK Transport Secretary Says New Hub Airport Could Prove Too Costly

With London Heathrow airport operating at around 96 percent of its capacity, the UK authorities are looking at a proposed new hub airport to be located close to the Thames River estuary.

However, according to the UK’s former transport secretary, Lord Adonis, the proposal for the project planned by architects, Foster & Partners, is likely to cost double the current valuation of £50 billion.

At the recently concluded session of the World Travel Market in London, Lord Adonis said, ‘I would be surprised if we were not talking about £100 billion-plus because it would involve a second Thames barrier and a new high-speed link to London.

To rule out expansion at Heathrow would be barmy and could undercut the role of the Davies Commission. Never has one public policy issue been so analysed. Six or 12 months would have been ample, instead of three years that has been given to Davies.’

In a new development, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), a global tourism association, reported that tourism in the UK is worth around GBP63 billion, and its growth is being affected by the lack of airport capacity in the south-east of the nation. WTTC is offering its support to the concept of a single airport hub for London, connected to a broader transport network.

WTTC president, David Scowsill, said, ‘The UK Government welcomes tourists with one hand while holding up a ‘keep out’ sign with another.

UK visa policies are overly bureaucratic and cumbersome; UK Air Passenger Duty is the highest of any country in the world; yet it is the incessant delay in providing new airport capacity, which is by far the biggest problem facing tourism in the UK.

The Davies Commission will take too long to review the position.

The private sector stakeholders of the tourism industry stand ready to be the earnest partner in delivering on solutions.

The UK government should grasp the nettle and make a decision that will bring jobs and economic growth at a crucial time for the UK economy.’