Daniel Moylan, adviser on aviation to the Mayor of London Boris Johnson, has outlined the case for a new £50 billion hub airport to be built in east London in the next 15-20 years and called for the UK government to bring forward its decision on airport expansion to next year.
Speaking at the ‘Invest and Manage Airports’ conference at Stamford Bridge in London, Moylan said the issue of a new hub airport in London was an urgency that had to be dealt with sooner rather than later.
In a lively speech to packed room of delegates, Moylan lambasted the UK’s failure to develop a proper aviation policy over the last 50 years which has in fact consisted of a series of “accidental decisions”.
Moylan said that it was time for the UK to have a “consistent airport policy” which understood the need for a “well functioning hub airport”. He said that Heathrow in its current state “does not have all the characteristics of a hub airport and therefore cannot be the country’s hub of the future”.
Instead he said the country should look to its neighbours, such as Amsterdam Schiphol, Paris Charles de Gaulle, and Frankfurt airports for examples of successful hubs.
Moylan said that to remain a ‘world city’ London needs to remain well connected through aviation, citing a “super connected highway of world cities that spans the globe”.
He said: “London needs to remain part of that highway. Britain needs foreign investment and will lose it if it doesn’t remain part of that highway.”
In the case of Heathrow, Moylan said it could never be the UK’s hub.
He said: “the site is far too constrained and only has two runways. But the question is not where can we put the third runway, but more the fourth or the fifth. The airport has practically reached the limit of its growth.”
According to Moylan, over the last 50 years the UK government has made “no decisions at all but kept its head in the sand. Now we must look to our Dutch, French and German neighbours and learn lessons from them.”
As for building a brand new hub airport, dubbed ‘Boris Island’ in the Thames Estuary, Moylan said first of all the need for a new airport had to be accepted and then discussions on location would be held. That said, Moylan claimed east London would be an ideal place to put the new infrastructure.
He said: “The east of London is known for a degree of deprivation, joblessness, and lower life expectancy. The economic benefits that a new airport in the area would bring, would be transformative. However the key is to get an agreement on a new airport first, and worry about the location later.”
Moylan stressed the urgency of the project as well and called for the new Aviation Commission to bring forward its recommendations on capacity expansion from 2015 to 2013.
The lack of urgency Moylan put down to the fact that these recommendations would conveniently happen after the next general election.
He said: “Simply this is down to the Coalition and the fact that the two parties don’t agree on an aviation policy does not make things easy.”
However he said decisions needed to be made quickly as the Dutch, French and Germans are “leeching business away from us” and there is a “danger London will be at the end of a branch” rather than part of a ‘super highway’.