WC & E

POLL: UK airport capacity solutions, elevator pitched

08 Aug 2013 11:33
Author:  Niki May Young
POLL: UK airport capacity solutions, elevator pitched

The time is up and the plans are in! But which of the long-term airport capacity solutions do you think has what it takes to support the UK’s burgeoning demand for air traffic?

(This poll is now officially closed, while you can still vote your choice will not be considered within 22 August 2013's official results)

In October 2012 the UK’s Airports Commission was charged with the task of finding the best sustainable solution to a projected increase in air traffic through the country. There are currently over 200 million passengers and over 2 million tonnes of freight carried by UK airlines and airports every year and the need to provide safe, secure and profitable services into the future is seen as of paramount importance. 29 potential solutions have been submitted to the Commission, published on the government’s website Gov.UK yesterday.

In UK politics, the issue is so highly charged that the head of the Commission, the Rt Hon Simon Burns, has advised that no decision will be made on which plan/s to proceed with until after the 2015 election. A number of short-term and medium-term proposals have also been submitted, however, and the Commission will provide recommendations to the government after considering these by 27 September.

This should allow the Commission to give due consideration to each of the long-term proposals, which range dramatically from a brand new hub airport in the Thames Estuary, to the use of a little-heard of airport in Kent as an overflow for Heathrow and other large airports in the South. The potential for airport city growth is great.

So while the Commission considers the plans, we want to know what you think! GlobalAirportCities.com has taken a selection of 11 of the long-term choices, providing an elevator pitch for each. You can choose your favourite in the poll below!

Proposer Airport/s Pitch
Birmingham Airport Birmingham Airport

With the support of Arup, BNP Paribas and the Royal Bank of Scotland Birmingham Airport proposes a second runway at its airport in the Midlands which is the UK’s second most important export market and the center of the UK. With the airport’s upcoming high-speed rail connection it is set to become the UK’s most accessible airport. Its connection to existing and new infrastructure would make Birmingham’s proposal one of the cheapest to implement. (Full proposal)

Foster + Partners Isle of Grain

World-renowned architects Foster + Partners’ new 4-runway hub airport in the Thames Estuary including cargo and airport support facilities would open with capacity for 110 million passengers per year. Teamed with a location in close proximity to major ports in the South East it would create an unrivalled distribution network and could pay for itself (£24bn) within a decade of opening. (Full proposal)

Gatwick Airport Gatwick Airport

A second, privately-financed runway at Gatwick Airport would provide connectivity not just in the UK capital, but throughout the country as part of a constellation of airports surrounding London. Gatwick already has direct rail connections to 129 rail stations including many of London’s major transport hubs. At £5bn - £9bn this low-cost solution, on already safeguarded land, would provide total capacity at the airport for up to 90 million passengers per year. (Full proposal)

Grimshaw Architects London Hub City

Grimshaw’s ‘food for thought’ solution provides a London-first approach, proposing the city itself becomes a hub interconnected by resilient and effective transport infrastructure. The vision would answer a variety of passenger demands such as culture and entertainment and would retain Heathrow as the key airport, suggesting a new airport in the east the ensure London is serviced from every compass point. This ‘eminently achievable’ vision makes best use of existing and planned infrastructure improvements to avoid a wholesale shift in the socio-economic map of London. (Full proposal)


Heathrow Airport Ltd Heathrow Airport

Utilising Heathrow as a hub airport with the addition of a third runway would provide a national gateway to the UK and help the country win the global race for jobs and growth. Heathrow has the existing airline connections enabling collaboration to provide better air links, encourage the world’s quitest aircraft and incentivise low emissions. New public transport services could link Heathrow to the whole of the UK and the benefit to the UK economy is estimated at £100bn. The project could be delivered for £14bn to £18bn. (Full proposal)

Infratil Airports Europe Manston Airport

The expansion of the currently under-used Manston Airport in Kent would provide an effective fast-check-in reliever airport to absorb the overflow from other airports in the South East, freeing up their capacity to serve passengers. A number of domestic flights could be serviced particularly from smaller aircraft struggling to afford large airport rates, while the airport also boasts easy access to Europe and further afield. The site has immediate development capability for swift action. (Full proposal)

Manchester Airports Group Stansted Airport + Manchester Airport

MAG proposes a two-pronged solution utilising both Manchester and the recently acquired Stansted Airport. Both airports are currently underused with combined additional capacity for up to 60 million passengers per annum (mppa) without any further development and with minimum investment. Stansted has planning consents and most of the infrastructure needed to service a further 10 mppa but could be developed into a hub adding another 4 runways for up to £10bn, at a fraction of the cost of other proposals. The joined-up approach would ensure the whole of the UK is serviced and connectivity via the west and east coasts is maximised. (Full proposal)

Policy Exchange Heathrow Airport

A scientifically considered four-runway structure at Heathrow would capitalise on the strongest natural economic hinterland, and good quality transport connections, particularly to London, while minimising environmental damage and increasing capacity to 121 million passengers per year. Think tank Policy Exchange's ‘bigger and quieter’ approach proposes a new location for the new runways, quieter planes and steeper descents to minimise noise disruption, which has proven a significant barrier to Heathrow expansion in the past. (Full proposal)


Transport for London Outer Thames Estuary

The Mayor of London’s bold approach presents a new four-runway hub airport in the Outer Estuary of the Thames. Designed for rapid and ready modular expansion it would be able to meet demand for decades in the future. Anticipating the completion of the first phase by 2029 the hub would be able to meet demand of 119 million people per annum by 2034 and up to 170 mppa by 2050.  (Full proposal)


Weston Williamson and Partners Luton Airport A four-runway hub at Luton airport would provide improved connectivity and capacity for the whole of the UK, not just the South East, based on existing access to the M1 and the A1 and a planned upcoming high speed rail connection. Luton is situated in a predominantly agricultural area providing minimum population disruption. The utilisation of Luton as a hub would allow the other airports surrounding London to remain in place as point-to-point airports. (Full proposal)


Western Gateway


Cardiff Airport


The addition of a third high-speed rail connection to Cardiff Airport could facilitate a network of airports supporting the South of the UK, easing the pressure off Heathrow and providing faster connectivity throughout the country. An extended runway would facilitate larger aircraft, and improved terminal and infrastructure facilities would allow Cardiff to significantly increase its capacity for up to 20 million passengers per year by 2040. (Full proposal)



(This poll is now officially CLOSED, while you can still vote your choice will not be considered within 22 August 2013's official results)



Leave your comments below!

Yola Dragon
03 Sep 2013 10:41

Seems a rather selective list, I would have expected to see the proposal for an airport on the Goodwin Sands included.

28 Aug 2013 18:10

450 votes LOL

16 Aug 2013 21:35

Why is it always about adding runways? What's needed is some good, high-speed rail links between LHR, LGW, LTN and STN together with some car parks sited between them - think of CDG and the CDG-VAL on a much grander scale.

One big, integrated hub for the South-East powerhouse of the UK.

Of course, having privatised airports and the all-sacred profit/competition tandem means that logic, passengers and airport neighbours have to come second nowadays!

16 Aug 2013 13:06

Alan - Try this link and if the voting box appears scroll down on it for Cardiff ;-) http://www.globalairportcities.com/page.cfm/action=library/libID=1/libEntryID=1040/listID=1

16 Aug 2013 09:33

Alan and others: you have to scroll down the voting list. Western Gateway, Cardiff is 'hidden' at the bottom of the chart.

14 Aug 2013 00:29

Why no place that I can see to vote for my nearest airport, Cardiff?

10 Aug 2013 18:23

....London Thames Global Airport & Cruise Liner Terminal, Thurrock SmartCity, Essex.. ...black & white..suits red, blue & yellow with a thought for green....the sustainable aviation formula...

FLY Cardiff
09 Aug 2013 10:00

Why no mention of the Cardiff proposal. With HS2 Cardiff would be highly ranked as a hub airport and offer a wide range of services for passengers in the South West. It's not all about London !

Niki May Young
08 Aug 2013 15:50

Which of these proposals do you think would provide the best potential for airport city-style developments such as business centres, hotels, maintenance hubs, retail opportunities etc?