London Mayor, Boris Johnson, has renewed calls for a new airport to be built in southeast England after a report claimed Heathrow was losing out to European rivals, reigniting the debate on London's airport capacity.
"The capital's airports are full, our runways are rammed and we risk losing jobs to Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Madrid or other European cities should we fail to act," Johnson said on Tuesday.
"We need to start planning for a brand new airport that can help meet the ever-increasing demand for aviation and act as a hub, particularly to the rest of the UK."
The report, overseen by Transport for London's (TfL) deputy chairman Daniel Moylan, argues that Britain's economy could suffer without a new hub airport.
Bosses at Birmingham Airport responded to Johnson’s call by issuing a reminder to the UK government that it has the potential to fill London’s capacity gap.
Chief executive, Paul Kehoe, says: “In these difficult times it makes sense to use and sensibly improve the assets that you have, rather than building whole new runways and demolishing whole villages. Those days are over.
“Aviation has its part to play in an integrated transport system, and rail must play a part in distributing the demand for international gateways, to airports that have capacity. Birmingham is a prime example as it is just over an hour from London.
“Birmingham Airport is a vital, yet underused piece of national strategic infrastructure.”
He claims that Birmingham Airport has enough spare capacity to handle another nine million passengers immediately, and more than another 21 million passengers in future years, as it improves its capability with a modest runway extension.
This spare capacity, allied with the planned new High-Speed 2 rail link, will bring Birmingham within 38 minutes of the capital, according to Kehoe.
The UK’s new Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government has scrapped plans for a new third runway at Heathrow in response to concerns about noise and carbon emissions.