New airport at Heathrow would have positive impact on the region

A new third runway at Heathrow would benefit the North East and see more connecting flights reach Newcastle International Airport.

Graeme Mason, planning and corporate affairs director at Newcastle International Airport
Graeme Mason, planning and corporate affairs director at Newcastle International Airport

A new third runway at Heathrow would benefit the North East and see more connecting flights reach Newcastle International Airport.

Expansion at the west London airport moved a step closer when a Government-appointed commission chose it as one of its options.

In an interim report, the Airports Commission, headed by former Financial Services Authority chief Sir Howard Davies, also put an extra, second, runway at Gatwick airport in West Sussex on to its shortlist.

Last night airport bosses said that the expansion at Heathrow needs to get the go-ahead so Newcastle International Airport can continue to have hub connecting flights.

Graeme Mason, planning and corporate affairs director at the airport, said: “I think the report is great news for the North East because of the options it has highlighted. It could have had a long list of options but it focuses particularly on Heathrow and Gatwick which is what we wanted.

“We strongly support Heathrow and the fact the report has made reference to its expansion is great news.

“We have submitted input into the whole process and we have always said we will support the expansion of Heathrow.

“Heathrow is the biggest single hub serving the region with half a million passengers, 50% of which are connecting to another airport.

“It is by far the largest and if Heathrow wasn’t expanding we could lose the connection. A new runway was always seen as the best interest for the North East.”

In the report the commission also kept the door open for a Thames Estuary airport scheme, favoured by London mayor Boris Johnson.

It went on to say that “there is a need for one net additional runway to be in operation in the South East by 2030.”

It added that its analysis indicated “that there is likely to be a demand case for a second additional runway to be operational by 2050.”

Sir Howard’s team said it would be taking proposals for new runways at two locations forward for a further detailed study.

The plan at Gatwick is for a new runway to the south of the existing one.

At Heathrow there are two options - the first is for one 3,500-metre (11,500ft) runway to the north west to add to the two existing runways. This would be a less noisy option than the runway proposed in Labour’s White Paper and would avoid the loss of the village of Sipson.

The second option is one is a proposal to extend the existing northern runway to at least 6,000 metres, enabling the extended runway to operate as two independent runways.

Mr Mason added: “We are not against the expansion of Gatwick and if it was expanded we would welcome that but it doesn’t replace what we need at Heathrow. Our priority is to see the expansion of Heathrow.”

The commission said it had not added the Thames Estuary options to the shortlist “as there were too many uncertainties and challenges” surrounding them at this stage.

Sir Howard’s team will now undertake further study of the Isle of Grain estuary option and “will reach a view later next year on whether that option offers a credible proposal for consideration alongside the other shortlisted options”.

The commission also said there was likely to be a case for considering Stansted and Birmingham as potential options for any second new runway by 2050.

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer