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Long term options for increasing air capacity: proposals received by the Airports Commission

On Wednesday 7 August, the Airports Commission, led by Sir Howard Davies, published the details of some of the proposals for solutions to the UK’s air capacity crisis that it received during a consultation earlier this year, and is inviting comment on this selection of the “wide spectrum of views”.

At the same time, Sir Howard rejected calls to speed up his review, which is due to recommend interim solutions at the end of the year, and a long-term strategy after the General Election in 2015. He told the Evening Standard that this “astonishingly complex task” could not be rushed, and that although  “many business people argue that it is urgent to get on with building new capacity — indeed some think we are well behind already…the recession has given us a little more time. The forecasts for traffic growth have been scaled back significantly since 2007.”

In response, Jo Valentine, Chief Executive of London First has said:

“Sir Howard is correct to say that Londoners would not welcome a hasty, but wrong, decision over whether and where the capital’s next runways might be built. After all, successive governments have been putting off the decision for more than 40 years, so what’s a few more months?

However, we do need urgent and robust action to increase our ability to reach growing international markets in the shorter term, which means using our existing runways more intensively. Raising the limit on flights at Heathrow and measures to help Gatwick and Stansted compete with it more effectively, including improved rail links, would be the best way of doing this.  Sir Howard’s Airports Commission is due to report on this later this year.  For the sake of our economy, this is one issue on which Londoners do need a sensible but quick decision followed by equally quick action by government.”

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