The Heathrow Hub concept proposes extending the existing Heathrow runways to the West and then splitting them to create four, thereby doubling the number of slots. By dramatically improving rail access to the UK's only hub airport it reduces road congestion and improves economic competitiveness. It is an innovative, practical and affordable solution that secures the UK's access to global markets.
The proposal was one of three shortlisted in Sir Howard Davies’ Airports Commission’s Interim Report, published in December 2013. The Commission is now undertaking a detailed appraisal of the proposals before a public consultation in autumn 2014.
Doubling Heathrow's existing runway capacity would allow more flights while also reducing delays and improving its resilience and efficiency.
Significant new runway capacity could be completed within five years; the scheme would be developed in phases so that capacity could be delivered as required by demand, or by the need for noise mitigation.
The extra capacity could reduce noise impacts by, for example, allowing the airport's opening hours to be reduced. The innovative runway layout also allows early morning arrivals - at times when there are few, if any, departures - to land over two miles further west on the second of the in-line runways (reducing noise over much of London). It also creates opportunities for noise mitigation, by allowing some slots to be used to facilitate runway alternation, and would be compatible with innovative noise reduction techniques, such as quieter approaches and steeper climb-outs. Crucially, very few, if any, new areas will be brought into the airport's noise footprint.
The cost and the airport user charges would be much lower than that of any other new airport. It would also be entirely privately funded. The relatively simple nature of the Heathrow Hub infrastructure, and the ability to take advantage of past investment in Heathrow, results in a capital cost far lower than all the other options being considered. In addition, the phased nature of the proposals allows capacity to be matched with demand. This increases affordability and reduces the commercial risk inherent in "all or nothing" proposals for entirely new infrastructure.
By connecting Heathrow to the national rail network, it will reduce road congestion and improve regional access to the only hub airport in the UK.
In addition, improved train connections with Heathrow could release significant runway capacity for long haul flights. A direct connection with the main rail network would also enable Heathrow to be served by EuroCarex, the proposed network of timesensitive overnight freight on Europe's high speed rail network.