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NEWS Last modified on August 29, 2014

Heathrow CEO urges Boris Johnson to support its expansion bid

The Sir Howard Davies led Airports Commission is next week expected to announce whether it has shortlisted London Mayor, Boris Johnson’s, proposal for an ambitious new Thames Estuary Airport on the Isle of Grain in Kent.

In advance of the commission’s decision, Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye has written an open letter to the Mayor, that he says reminds him of his own words about the essential need for a successful hub and also the inability of Gatwick to provide the connectivity the country needs.

The head of the world’s third busiest gateway, says it leads to an obvious conclusion, that “only Heathrow can now deliver the connections the Mayor says are essential for Britain to compete”.

The full text of the letter from Heathrow’s CEO, John Holland-Kaye, to London Mayor Boris Johnson, reads:

“Dear Boris,

Despite our differences, we have always agreed that London and the UK need a successful hub airport to compete. The airport debate is a question of “What do we want for our country?".

The global economy is changing rapidly. Britain should be at the centre of the world economy, beating France and Germany in winning business in the growth markets of the world - Asia and the Americas.

Instead, without action we face a future cut off from some of the world’s most important markets.

You recognise that a hub airport does something different than a point-to-point airport. By combining direct passengers with transfer passengers a hub is able to fill the large aircraft that make long-haul travel possible.

You have said yourself that Britain definitely needs a successful hub airport if it is to compete in the global race.


This leaves two choices: expand Heathrow or build a new solution in the Thames Estuary. Those are the only ways to deliver an airport with the size and scale to keep Britain at the heart of the global economy.

Gatwick is different, it serves the short-haul and holiday market. We have nothing against Gatwick but you have rightly identified that its claim that it can deliver the same benefits as a hub airport is “a sham, a snare and a delusion”.

I agree with you when you say a second runway at Gatwick would not make a bean of difference to the global connectivity we need. Air China’s withdrawal from Gatwick is just the latest example of Gatwick’s difficulty in making direct, daily, long-haul flights work.

If your own proposal for a new Thames Estuary Airport is not shortlisted by the Airports Commission then Heathrow will be the only hub option left in the race. It will be the only option capable of providing frequent direct long-haul flights to fast-growing countries like China, India and Brazil.

We both want to keep Britain as a global economic power for generations to come, enhance London's position as a world City, as well as create over 100,000 new jobs many of which will be in your proposed constituency of Uxbridge.

Heathrow can help you do this and I urge you to maintain your support for a successful hub airport. Any other choice would be a betrayal of the case that you have made so effectively over the last three years.

Yours sincerely,

John Holland-Kaye."

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