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Cardiff Airport could be Heathrow's sixth terminal Sir Howard …

Posted: November 2, 2012 | Author: walesairforum | Filed under: Cardiff Airport & RAF St Athan, UK Aviation News, Welsh Aviation News | Tags: Davies Commission, Department for Transport, DFT, Geoff Muirhead, Prof Dame Julia King, Prof Ricky Burdett, Sir Howard Davies, Sir John Armitt, UK Airport Expansions, Uk aviation, UK Government, Welsh Aviation | The man leading a commission into the future for Britain s airports today said he would consider a plan to use Cardiff Airport as Heathrow s sixth terminal . Sir Howard Davies outlined some of the proposals he would consider as part of his investigation into the best way forward for air travel in the UK. Sir Howard, the Airports Commission chairman, said there was no clear consensus on the best way forward for UK airports.

He said his commission would try to produce a final report by summer 2015 which would give the government of the day the opportunity to make decisions quickly. Speaking in London as he introduced his five other commissioners, Sir Howard said he was aware of the criticism of some, including London Mayor Boris Johnson, that the commission s 2015 timescale was too long. Sir Howard said: The arguments are well understood.

Some are political, some are not. What we are trying to do is to make sure the work we do is useful and allows decisions to be made more quickly. He went on: The coalition Government is prepared for us to look broadly at all the options on the table as well as some that are not on the table so that a government can come to it after the General Election with an open mind.

Labour had been keen on a third runway at Heathrow Airport but on coming to power in 2010 the coalition Government ruled this out. Mr Johnson supports a new Thames Estuary airport while architect Lord Foster has submitted his own estuary airport plan. Asked if everything was back on the table, Sir Howard replied yes .

He said options his commission would be looking at in addition to the main ideas included. :: Possible further use of Birmingham Airport if the HS2 rail link goes ahead. :: A so-called Heath wick plan, in which a fast rail link between Heathrow and Gatwick would enable the two airports to be regarded as a twin hub. :: Cardiff Airport to be regarded as Heathrow s sixth terminal when fast rail links are completed. :: A plan to move Heathrow westwards which includes putting part of the M25 in a tunnel. Aviation expert Martin Evans, who was part of a panel of entrepreneurs and transport experts that submitted ambitious plans for Cardiff Airport to be the Western Gateway to Heathrow, said that if it was under consideration it could represent a game-changing moment. People, and particular airlines, would start to view Cardiff differently if accepted, he said.

And, of course, if Cardiff becomes more attractive to airlines because they think there is going to be more services by other airlines in future, it then becomes almost self-fulfilling, as new airlines coming in, adding capacity, new passengers and makes it more attractive to other airlines. He said, if the commission recommended part of all of the plan, it would mean literally thousands of jobs employed directly and indirectly by the airport. But much more than those thousands of jobs directly or indirectly associated with aviation, we could see a large number of extra jobs from companies, he said.

And that is not just service companies, it could be high manufacturing companies attracted by the better connections for freight. Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: Aviation is vital to the UK economy and we need to have a long-term aviation policy which meets the challenges of the future. Sir Howard and his team will now take forward this vitally important work for the Government and bring a much-needed fresh perspective to the debate.

Under a local agreement, no extra runway can be built at Gatwick before 2019, although expansion at the West Sussex airport will be among options looked at by the Davies Commission. Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate said: We welcome today s launch of the commission. The detailed work and analysis on how to maintain the UK s status as an international aviation hub can now really begin.

At Gatwick, we have already announced that we are beginning detailed studies on the options for a second runway. We know that Gatwick can play a critical role in addressing the current and future capacity problems in south east England. A new runway at Gatwick could be more affordable and practical than other options and give passengers a greater choice of routes to key destinations.

At Gatwick, we have the space, the capability and the access to financial resources. Critically, we would have a significantly lower environmental impact when compared, for example, to a third runway at Heathrow. Corin Taylor, senior economic adviser at the Institute of Directors, said: Sir Howard is obviously doing the best he can with the hand he was dealt, but the Government must look again at the excessive length of time before they allow him to report.

The uncertainty already caused by years of delay on airport expansion is damaging enough without waiting even longer to make a decision. It seems that the Davies Commission will have solid conclusions based on extensive research ready well before 2015 business needs to know what they are as soon as possible. We must remember that airports are not standalone installations delaying this question for three years will have knock-on effects on surface infrastructure like rail connections.

A Heathrow spokesman said: We hope the Davies Commission will build consensus on the UK s requirements for hub capacity and then rigorously assess every option against those needs. None of the options for hub airport capacity is easy. Every choice, including doing nothing, has its consequences.

However, a clear positive decision would stimulate economic growth, create jobs, and help secure Britain s competitiveness in a changing world. Services Authority chief Sir Howard Davies today introduced his five-strong team that will form the Government-ordered Airports Commission. Sir Howard, who is also a former CBI boss, joked that his fellow commissioners were acting for the love of it as all have chosen not to be paid.

These are the other commissioners: :: Sir John Armitt has had the massively high-profile job as chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority and is a former chief executive of rail infrastructure company Network Rail.

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Cardiff Airport could be Heathrow's sixth terminal Sir Howard …

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