Boris Johnson enjoys ‘friendly’ meeting over aviation capacity

18:46 13 November 2012

Boris Johnson. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Boris Johnson. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

PA Wire/Press Association Images

London Mayor Boris Johnson held talks today with the man charged with reviewing the Government’s airport capacity policy.

He also repeated his opposition to a third runway at Heathrow Airport during the meeting with Sir Howard Davies, who runs a commission which will make recommendations about future airport capacity needs.

It came a day ahead of the publication of a report by Heathrow Airport managers on the need for the UK to maintain a major hub airport.

Mr Johnson’s official spokesman described the hour-long meeting as “friendly, businesslike and productive”.

Mr Johnson said: “I look forward to staying in close touch with Sir Howard and to contributing to his work.

“It’s important that the commission takes a wide view of the economic benefits of aviation, including the stimulus it can give to a local area, to tourism and to the creative industries in which Britain excels.

“I will be working to ensure the Commission is provided with the evidence to do just that.”

Sir Howard’s team will present an interim report to the Government by the end of next year, with a full report due in summer 2015 - after the next general election.

Mr Johnson has already criticised the commission’s timescale and expressed his concern about it at today’s meeting.

The spokesman added the two men agreed that examination of a range of options for expansion had to be based on “evidence-gathering that would lead to a level playing field” for all the serious options being proposed - including a four-runway hub in or around the Thames Estuary or at Stansted.

Tomorrow Heathrow chief executive Colin Matthews will launch a report entitled One Hub Or None.

At present, Heathrow is the UK’s major hub airport and the need for a major hub forms part of the work of the Davies Commission, which will be sent the Heathrow report.

The so-called “Boris Island” scheme gained little support from MPs in a poll earlier this week.

Of the 93 MPs surveyed, 46% supported expansion at Heathrow, with only 16% backing the estuary plan.

Sir Howard’s team’s initial report will focus on what can be done to cope with aviation demand in the immediate future.

The all-party 2M Group, which represents more than 20 local councils close to Heathrow, has said it will be telling the Davies Commission that loosening restrictions on Heathrow’s existing runways would destroy the quality of life for flightpath communities on all sides of the west London airport.

The group wants a guarantee that “runway alternation” and night-flight restrictions will not be sacrificed so the airport can handle more planes.

The campaign group says that allowing both runways to be used in tandem for arrivals and departures - a system called “mixed mode” - would be just as damaging as creating a third and fourth landing strip.

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