|Photo by Freeimages.com/Roy White|
by Ben Martin, The Daily Telegraph, April 11, 2016
Fierce rivals Heathrow and Gatwick enjoyed their busiest-ever Easters after a record number of passengers passed through the airports last month, which both companies seized upon as evidence they should be allowed to expand.
Heathrow, which is trying to persuade the Government to back its plans for a third runway, catered for 6.1m passengers in March, up 2.5pc on the same month a year earlier. Gatwick, which wants minsters to support its proposal for a second landing strip, enjoyed a 5.8pc year-on-year increase in traffic to 3.1m.
Last month saw the start of direct flights between Heathrow and Jakarta by Garuda Indonesia, a carrier that had been waiting for six years to secure a take-off slot at Britain’s biggest airport. John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow’s chief executive, said building a third runway to ease the aviation capacity crisis in southeast England would enable many more airlines to establish routes at the West London hub.
“There is a queue of more than 30 airlines waiting for slots from Heathrow,” he said. “With expansion, we can supercharge British trade by opening up 40 new long-haul trading links with the fastest growing markets in the world.”
Meanwhile, Stewart Wingate, the Gatwick chief, said: “Government backing for Gatwick expansion this year will mean that the UK finally and definitively has a solution to its long enduring aviation capacity issue.”
Opponents of airport expansion are concerned about the environmental cost of building new runways at either Heathrow or Gatwick, which are both close to being full.
Heathrow, which is almost full, wants to build a third runway
Worries centre on increases to air pollution and jet engine noise that extra runways would cause, and the Government is undertaking more work on the environmental impact of expansion before choosing between Heathrow and Gatwick. David Cameron, the Prime Minister, is faced with a politically contentious decision and has already broken his promise to decide on the matter by the end of 2015.
Regional airports argue they could pick up the slack until more capacity is added around London. Manchester Airports Group, which owns London Stansted, East Midlands and Bournemouth airports, as well as Manchester, said today its four businesses carried 51.9m passengers in the last year, a jump of 7.1pc.
Stansted had 1.9m travellers pass through its departure gates in March, up 13.2pc year-on-year and buoyed by recent strong growth at no-frills carrier Ryanair. Manchester also experienced an 11pc leap in traffic to 1.7m last month, East Midlands saw a 9.1pc increase to 281,480, and Bournemouth enjoyed a 35.8pc surge to 37,210.
Meanwhile, London Luton, which is controlled by Spanish airports operator Aena, posted a 24.4pc jump in traffic in March to 1.05m. In what Luton described as “a major coup”. Thomas Cook Airlines is to start operating from the airport from next year with the launch of four charter routes to Corfu, Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca.
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This article was written by Ben Martin from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.