The future of Heathrow

The Heathrow alternatives


The plug was pulled on ambitions for a second runway at the north London airport when the Coalition took office and confirmed it would refuse permission for an extra runway at Stansted. One of its key operators Ryanair has said that if it does take a stake in Stansted as part of the latter’s sale, it would immediately press for a second runway.

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Existing agreements prevent any runway being built at the south London airport before 2019 and when Global Infrastructure Partners bought Gatwick in 2010 it said a second runway was not part of its foreseeable plans. The UK Coalition government on taking office said it would refuse permission for a second runway at Gatwick.


Suggestions gently floated a year ago to build a high speed rail link connecting Heathrow and Gatwick were quickly shot down on the grounds it did not address capacity or create a viable hub

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Developing the RAF Northolt airport, located a few miles northwest of Heathrow Airport and used as for civil operations during the latter’s construction, for domestic flights as an alternative third runway for Heathrow have been floated.

New build airport

Proposals to build a new four-runway airport in the Thames Estuary airport were put forward last year October by architecture firm Foster & Partners, infrastructure consultants Halcrow and economists Volterra Partners. The proposed airport aims to provide capacity for 150 million passengers a year, but the cost of the project raised eyebrows among critics who argue the focus should be on increasing capacity at existing airports. There has also been talk of a similar new build project to the west of London.

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