Full, half-full and half-empty

 

When it comes to having it both ways, Heathrow Airport is a past master.

As Transport Network reported last month, Heathrow is seeking permission for an additional 25,000 flights a year from its two existing runways.

Question: Is this good news? 

The assessment that Heathrow was ‘effectively full’ was the main reason the Airports Commission identified back in 2013 that new airport capacity – ie a third Heathrow runway – was needed.

”Local

This ‘full’ airport has now announced ‘the best year in its history after eight years of consecutive growth’ with 80.1 million passengers in 2018.

At the time of the Airports Commission Interim report (2013) the latest figures for Heathrow passenger numbers (2012) were 70 million. 

For an airport that is 'effectively full' to add 10 million passengers in just a few years – an increase of around 14% - is astounding. 

The mystery was answered by Cait Hewitt of the Aviation Environment Aviation Federation, who told Transport Network last month: ‘Heathrow has managed to increase its passenger throughput simply through the use of bigger, fuller planes.’

This seems to be a glass half-full, glass half empty situation.

If your view is what matters is not whether the UK has the capacity it needs (or even the number of flights that can address the challenge of climate change), but whether it is punching its weight against global competitors, then this 14% growth is simply not good enough.

Last year, the Telegraph revealed ‘The statistics that show how Heathrow is losing its “megahub” status’.

‘The lack of capacity has seen Heathrow stagnate in recent years. Passenger numbers rose by 3% in 2017, 1% in 2016, 2.2% in 2015 and 1.4% in 2014.’ But, compared to Dubai...

We know what the Airport Commission had to consider as the most important issue. The terms of reference for the Airports Commission were to see whether any additional capacity was needed ‘to maintain the UK’s position as Europe’s most important aviation hub’.

Unsurprisingly, the Commission concluded that as other airports grew, Heathrow needed to grow to compete.

It said: ‘In terms of connectivity, Heathrow continues to have a dominant position amongst European hubs on routes to North America and other established aviation markets. However, it has not been able to build on this and establish a similar position of strength in routes to emerging economies.’

Again, miracles never cease, because in terms of flights to emerging economies, in which category the Airports Commission put China, Heathrow now reports it 'doubled its Chinese connections in 2018, adding six new cities including Europe’s only flight to Shenzhen, the home of Asia’s Silicon Valley’.

And there can be no doubt Heathrow continues to have a dominant position in Europe.

Heathrow announced last week that its passengers numbers for January were up yet again – this time by 2.1% as ‘5.9 million passengers travelled through the UK’s only hub airport’ and Heathrow ‘reported its 27th consecutive record month’.

It said: ‘Figures from the ACI show that Heathrow remains Europe’s busiest airport, even though growth continues to be hampered the airport’s current capacity constraints.’

The ACI is Airports Council International, the trade body for airports.

The Airports Commission said previously: ‘And the number of domestic routes to the airport is declining, restricting access from other UK regions to Heathrow’s network of international services.’

Heathrow now reports: 'Domestic connections growing – Heathrow’s domestic connections are set to grow to nine as new services to Newquay begin in April.'

Following the re-launch of the Inverness services, the UK’s two furthest mainland airports will now be connected to the nation’s hub boosting trade and travel opportunities.’

Whichever way you look at it, Heathrow is thriving, despite the constraints it claims.

Does it recognise that success it proclaims is undermining the case for its new runway?

Far from it. For the airport, the glass is always half empty. Good news is bad news and vice versa. Last week it said: ‘The ACI also reports that aviation capacity issues are becoming more widespread and evident across Europe, strengthening the case for Heathrow’s expansion.’

First Heathrow needed to be expanded to stay ahead of European airports, now it needs to be expanded because of a lack of capacity in European airports.

As I said, when it comes to having it both ways…

Register now for full access


Register just once to get unrestricted, real-time coverage of the issues and challenges facing UK transport and highways engineers.

Full website content includes the latest news, exclusive commentary from leading industry figures and detailed topical analysis of the highways, transportation, environment and place-shaping sectors. Use the link below to register your details for full, free access.

Already a registered? Login

 
comments powered by Disqus
 
 
highways jobs

Senior Traffic Engineer

East Riding of Yorkshire Council
£32,029 - £34,788 per annum
Currently seeking an enthusiastic and experienced individual to manage our Traffic Team. East Riding of Yorkshire
Recuriter: East Riding of Yorkshire Council

Ugobus Driver (multiple positions)

Essex County Council
Up to £18938 per annum
Please note that we have permanent, fixed term and relief contract opportunities on a part time, job share and flexible working basis. The salary is u England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Principal Transport & Infrastructure Planning Officer

Essex County Council
£52000 - £57570.0 per annum
Please note this is a two year fixed term contract with a potential for extension, subject to budget and workload. Job purpose Calling all transport P England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Food Safety Environmental Health Officer

Camden London Borough Council
£36,630 to £42,490
Seeking a highly motivated and experienced Environmental Health Officer to join our busy Food Safety team. Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Policy Planner

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
£25,327 - £36,486 depending on skills and experience
We have an exciting opportunity within the Spatial and Transport Planning service for 2 x Policy Planner roles... London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Highways Inspector

Cambridgeshire County Council
£19,554 - £23,836
Looking for candidates who have experience of highways maintenance and have a sound technical understanding of highways. Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Street Services Recruitment Day

Royal Borough of Greenwich
Competitive Salary
This role involves collecting residents and business wheelie bins and waste containers you will work as... Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Assistant Tree Officer

Camden London Borough Council
£25,880 - £27,904
Looking for an assistant tree officer to join a busy Tree Section working with the most up to date arboriculture equipment’s and IT resources.  Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Pollution Environment Health Officer

Camden London Borough Council
£36,630 to £42,490
Seeking a highly motivated and experienced Environmental Health Officer to join our busy Environmental Health team. Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Traffic Officer

Bedford Borough Council
£23,313 - £26,999 per annum
You will work as part of the Highways team providing specialist knowledge and advice on traffic management issues. Bedford, Bedfordshire
Recuriter: Bedford Borough Council

Vehicle Technician x2

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
£24,313 - £28,785 per annum
Seeking to recruit two Vehicle Technicians, based at our Waterfall Lane Depot in Cradley Heath. Sandwell, West Midlands
Recuriter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Senior Design Engineer - Guildford

Surrey County Council
£39,438 - £43,744 per annum
An opportunity has arisen within Surrey County Council's Highway Design & Delivery Team... Guildford, Surrey
Recuriter: Surrey County Council

Environment and Low Carbon Work Package Manager

Essex County Council
£38400 - £42420 per annum
Please note that this position is to be offered on a 3-year, fixed term contract.Interviews likely to be held week commencing 30th September 2019.Esse England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Director of External Operations

Somerset West and Taunton Council
£100,000
Somerset West and Taunton Council has been through a transformation that puts customers at the heart of everything we do. Taunton, Somerset
Recuriter: Somerset West and Taunton Council

Surface Water Engineer (Maternity Cover)

Essex County Council
£30300 - £35000 per annum + plus benefits
Essex is committed to enabling inclusive economic growth, helping people get the best start and age well, helping create great places to grow up, live England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Zero Emissions Network Officer

Tower Hamlets London Borough Council
£33,759 - £34,986
We are looking for an enthusiastic Zero Emissions Network Officer Tower Hamlets, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Tower Hamlets London Borough Council

Contract Supervisor

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
£31,013 - £36,486 depending on skills, knowledge and experience
The role of Contract Supervisor (Waste and Street Cleansing) will require you to support ambitious plans to provide services for residents Richmond upon Thames, London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Flood Risk Manager

Birmingham City Council
£43,662 - £54,574
The role requires the post holder to be the lead professional for the Authority’s Flood Risk Management and drainage function Birmingham, West Midlands
Recuriter: Birmingham City Council

Head of Highways & Transport

Lewisham London Borough Council
up to £72,705
As our lead expert on highways and transport, you will set the direction and lead on all transport related matters Lewisham, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Lewisham London Borough Council

Assistant Director

Hounslow London Borough Council
Up to £82k
Working across a wide range of high profile direct services, the emphasis for this role is on partnership working. Hounslow (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recuriter: Hounslow London Borough Council