Stansted Airport: Is Thames Estuary airport idea a blow to future plans?

A “WORLD class four-runway hub to rival Dubai” is the ONLY way to compete globally in air industry, according to the Mayor of London’s office.

In a blow to Stansted Airport’s gradual expansion business model, deputy chief for transport Daniel Moylan criticised the way the Government is handling growing passenger numbers.

He said that the only way to increase capacity is to build an entirely new “national hub airport” from scratch, including four runways and several huge terminals.

“Other countries are already ahead of us with projects that could take away trade and business from the UK because the Government is not dealing with capacity issues now,” he said.

“London’s prosperity depends on its connections with other world cities, but that will be at risk if we don’t develop a purpose-built hub to meet the growing demand.

“Whether that be a new construction in the Thames Estuary, or a major extension on Kent International is up for discussion. But we want to spark that conversation now before it is too late.”

The rant from Mr Moylan may have come as a shock for Stansted airport bosses as his vision for the future rules out gradual up-scaling as seen at the Essex airport over the last 30 years.

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Staff at Stansted will be increasing rail and bus links and are researching quicker ways to get passengers into the heart of the capital.

They are also on the hunt for new business from airlines, such as the Air Asia X deal agreed last year.

With the Coalition Government set to publish its first white paper on the future of British aviation early next year, all ideas will be put into the hat.

London Mayor Boris Johnson will be taking the case for a new hub airport in the South-East to transport secretary Philip Hammond before the paper is published.

Stansted commercial and development director Nick Barton will be pushing the case for more considered and “greener expansion” to keep pollution and noise impacts to a minimum.

He will be urging the Government to focus on improving existing airports and allowing Stansted to grow outside of its current boundaries.

He also added that the airport will be ready for the 2012 Olympics and will be “the first and last impression people get in the UK”. He said: “It is incredibly important for us to get things right. We want to make a good and lasting impression.”

As it stands Prime Minister David Cameron has ruled out more runways at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. But business groups believe airport expansion is essential for the growth of London’s economy.

Mr Moylan said that adding runways “here and there”, or high-speed rail links, were not the answers to a growing UK market of 230 million passengers a year.

“The debate is crucial. The Government has its head stuck in the sand and time is slipping by.

“The Mayor will be making the case to the secretary of state because there is a broad consensus in the business community that new airport capacity for the capital is essential.”

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