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  • Why Heathrow?

    The UK faces a critical choice on airport capacity and is in urgent need of a resilient and efficient hub to boost our connectivity and competitiveness. This is not a competition between UK airports, but more a case of who can help Britain win the competitive race against the other major global players.

The UK’s hub airport

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Heathrow is without question the most deliverable solution to the UK’s airport capacity issue – because it builds on one of the UK’s strongest national assets.

Businesses and travellers flock to Heathrow. It provides and supports vital national and global connections, and is the biggest UK freight port by value. However, we must maximise its potential. As the UK's only international hub airport, it drives our economic competitiveness, serving long-haul growth markets and business destinations by pooling demand from across Europe. But, insufficient capacity means that it is rapidly losing routes to other European and Asian hubs. Failing to maximise Heathrow's potential would be a serious mistake: it is the sensible option and Heathrow Hub is the simple and practical solution to expansion.

Location

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Heathrow serves a uniquely attractive catchment area.

Airlines are able to fly more premium seats per aircraft from Heathrow than any other major hub. That makes it an attractive location for airlines. Driving the growth engines of London, the Thames Valley and the business prosperity of Central and South West UK, Heathrow has shaped the economy of the capital and the M4 corridor. No other UK airport can achieve such geographic connectivity. Located at the centre of a comprehensive network of rail and road links, 25% of Heathrow’s passengers can already reach Heathrow within 30 minutes.

Business Case

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Heathrow is one of the UK’s most important assets.

Responsible for around 1% of UK's GDP, it is vital that we build on Heathrow's strengths to protect our economy. Businesses choose to locate close to Heathrow, taking advantage of its long-haul connections and surface access, making it easier for them to do business around the world. Unsurprisingly, the country's centre of economic gravity is to the west of Central London with 120 of the UK's top 300 company HQs located within a 15 mile radius of Heathrow. The UK's regional economies also rely heavily on Heathrow. As the UK's only hub airport, it provides connectivity to global markets and creates economic growth for the UK as a whole. Better connections could spread those benefits across much more of the UK.

Why we must act

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Heathrow is full and losing routes to the growing hub airports in Europe, Asia and the Gulf.

The world is more connected and competitive than ever before and other countries are pushing ahead to expand their airports and secure their future. Britain is a small island that has always relied on its global connectivity and if we are to prosper in the 21st century, we must be even better connected to the emerging markets of the world. Standing still means stepping back in the global race. Heathrow is one of our strongest assets and to restrain its potential would isolate us both physically and economically. It is where people and airlines want to be and as the only UK hub airport, serving 180 destinations in 85 countries, it’s vital that we harness its potential.

 

Cost and competitiveness

Airlines and passengers consistently choose Heathrow.

Airlines which have chosen to serve the UK have generally waited until they could secure slots at the airport, or moved from other airports to Heathrow whenever an opportunity arose, even at a huge financial cost. A virtuous cycle has seen West London and the Thames Valley become one of the most important engines of the UK economy, driven by proximity to Heathrow and its global connectivity, and in turn providing airlines with a hugely attractive local market. This simply cannot be replicated at Gatwick or any other UK airport. As the global centre of economic activity moves steadily east, and our competitors overtake us in connectivity and capacity, we cannot rely on our past success to guarantee the UK’s attraction to global business in the future.

Why Gatwick is not an option

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Gatwick does not have the hub legacy and infrastructure needed.

Heathrow is the most deliverable solution to the UK’s airport capacity issue, because it builds on one of the UK’s strongest national assets. The airport has a track record of providing world-class airport facilities making it best placed to deliver the hub capacity the UK needs.

Gatwick’s location is isolated. Heathrow is on the right side of London. Its wide catchment area has seen airlines growing to serve a wide range of destinations, attracting businesses that base themselves around the airport. This has provided a compelling market for airlines, driving further expansion in routes and resulting in airlines fighting to fly from Heathrow, even though it has been full for years. 

Just one rail line and a single motorway connect Gatwick, so expansion would demand significant investment in surface access. Heathrow already has much of the road and rail infrastructure needed to support a hub and is already surrounded by top brands and businesses.

When all these factors are combined, Heathrow is the only deliverable answer to the hub capacity issue.

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