Stansted/London: Boris Johnson calls for multi-runway airport
- Credit: PA
Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne are “kidding themselves” if they think Britain can stay internationally competitive without building a new multi-runway hub airport, Boris Johnson has warned.
The Mayor of London called on the Government to follow the example of Hong Kong and overcome their doubts to green light a new airport to the east of London.
Hong Kong’s Chep Lap Kok airport is built on land reclaimed from the sea - much like the Mayor’s plans for a so-called “Boris island” - and replaced the old airport which was situated in an urban area with no room for expansion.
Mr Johnson claimed the situation bore a resemblance to the one currently facing Britain with Heathrow expansion a controversial and, according to the Mayor, unworkable option.
Mr Johnson said: “The Chinese authorities have clearly figured out that aviation is absolutely key to economic growth and they are building a legion of mega-airports that will link them to every market in the world.
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“It is hugely impressive yet also devastatingly depressing when you consider that, as long as the vision for aviation in the UK remains steadfastly wedded to Heathrow or a make-do solution, we will not be able to access many of the mega-airports opening here or in the many other dynamic economies building new airfields around the globe.
“The people of Hong Kong overcame their doubts and delivered a fantastic hub airport at Chep Lap Kok that has since turbo-charged their prosperity and economic success.”
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Mr Johnson wants a four-runway airport either built in the Thames Estuary on an island reclaimed from the sea or on the Isle of Grain in Kent’s Hoo Peninsula - as outlined by architect Lord Foster.
Another option would involve expanding Stansted to make it a four-runway airport.
As officials took Mr Johnson on a tour of Hong Kong’s airport they explained that it was built in just six years using expertise from British designers and has since become the world’s third biggest international airport.
Mr Johnson cited new Transport for London research which showed that adding second runways at Gatwick and Stansted rather than building a new hub airport would mean 1000 fewer long haul flights to 125 fewer destinations every week.
He said: “There are absolutely no circumstances in which the expansion of Heathrow will be acceptable to London or of long term benefit to the country.
“Ambitious cities like Hong Kong have stolen a march on us and built mega-airports that plug them directly into the global supply chains that we need to be part of.
“They have moved heaven and earth to move their airports away from their major centres of population and for London and the wider UK to remain competitive we also have to build an airport capable of emulating that scale of growth.”