Heathrow: The whirlpool of uncertainty is playing to the aviation industry’s advantage

AirportWatch’s John Stewart reports on the latest news in the debate on aviation in the south east, following reports the Heathrow third runway is back on.

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John Stewart is the chair of AirportWatch

The government’s sudden decision last week to postpone consultation on its draft aviation strategy has opened a hole which has been filled by lobbyists spreading rumour and counter rumour.

HeathrowOn Sunday both the Observer and the Independent on Sunday ran, somewhat thinly-sourced, front page stories implying a third runway at Heathrow is back on the government’s agenda.

This whirlpool of uncertainty is playing to the aviation industry’s advantage.

It is allowing it to create a climate of opinion that extra airport capacity is essential for a competitive economy; that a third runway at Heathrow has growing support amongst government ministers who regret their decision to scrap it in 2010.

With no policy document to respond to, the industry doesn’t feel obliged to come up with hard facts and figures. The campaign is one of innuendo, off-the-record briefings, private lunches and advertising slogans.

It is typified by the BAA adverts plastered across the London underground. MPs have told me they cannot remember such a sustained campaign from any industry.

It is ironic the transport secretary at this time is Justine Greening who, during the campaign against the third runway, referred to BAA as operating in a fact-free zone. Of course, the industry is aiming beyond Greening.

George Osborne is a prime target. This week’s New Statesman carried an article on how he is impressed by the pleas of business people in much the same way as Margaret Thatcher was dazzled by the military top brass.

And Osborne has shifted the Government position.

 


See also:

Budget 2012: Will the coalition u-turn on its ‘no new runways’ pledge? 21 Mar 2012

Even if people prefer a 3rd runway to Boris Island, doesn’t mean they like either 29 Feb 2012

Expensive and ineffective: Boris Johnson’s island airport (even Tories think so) 21 Nov 2011

Aviation industry turn on Greening over her opposition to third runway 17 Oct 2011

Boris’s airport arguments don’t stand up to scrutiny 18 Mar 2011


 

In his autumn statement, the chancellor signalled that new runways at Stansted and Gatwick were a possibility when he pledged the government would “explore all options for maintaining the UK’s aviation hub status, with the exception of a third runway at Heathrow”.

That is a clear change from the 2010 pledge of no new runways in the South East.

Where there is no indication of even a hint of a shift is over expansion at Heathrow.  Today Boris Johnson has reaffirmed his opposition to it. Of course, Boris has an island to promote but his views on Heathrow are likely to reflect those of senior conservatives.

There is an acceptance a third runway at Heathrow would not be politically feasible. Justine Greening would resign her post. Richmond MP Zac Goldsmith would resign as an MP. The Conservatives would lose votes and seats across a wide area.

But, beyond, it seems all political parties accept the reality: the Heathrow battle has been fought – the question of the third runway has been settled.

When the draft consultation aviation strategy does finally emerge, the debate will be around whether extra capacity, away from Heathrow, is required to maintain the UK’s connectivity with the rest of the world. London continues to be the best-connected city in the world (pdf).

The debate will start to look forward to a world of more expensive oil; of ever-tighter climate targets; of increasing using of video-conferencing by business; and of the development of new airports, with their own hubs, in the fast-developing economies of the Global South.

The UK aviation industry’s current campaign for more airport capacity has relied on the slogans of the last century. It needs to find slogans and arguments to address the realities of the 21st century.

 


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21 Responses to “Heathrow: The whirlpool of uncertainty is playing to the aviation industry’s advantage”

  1. Sarah Shoraka

    Very good post on @leftfootfwd by the legendary John Stewart @HACAN1 on the possible #Heathrow u-turn http://t.co/iixx3lPq

  2. Patron Press - #P2

    #UK : Heathrow: The whirlpool of uncertainty is playing to the aviation industry’s advantage http://t.co/077fllYZ

  3. Political Planet

    Heathrow: The whirlpool of uncertainty is playing to the aviation industry’s advantage: AirportWatch’s John Stew… http://t.co/JIYsanM6

  4. Pulp Ark

    Heathrow: The whirlpool of uncertainty is playing to the… http://t.co/pBdH3nrH #SustainableEconomy #airports #aviation #muslim #tcot #sioa

  5. leftlinks

    Left Foot Forward – Heathrow: The whirlpool of uncertainty is playing to the aviation industry’s… http://t.co/MrLzHoKR

  6. BigGreenFactory

    Heathrow: The whirlpool of uncertainty is playing to the aviation industry’s advantage | Left Foot F http://t.co/oZ1vKdSK

  7. Richard George

    .@HACAN1 explains why Heathrow uncertainty helps the aviation industry. http://t.co/mWbya0BE It's a proxy war: the real target is Gatwick.

  8. Birmingham FOE

    RT @jossgarman: Very good post on @leftfootfwd by the legendary John Stewart @HACAN1 on the possible #Heathrow u-turn http://t.co/fPUdAHdA

  9. Anonymous

    No, the fact that flight capacity and hence business is going to Europe because of the capacity issues around the South East won’t change any time in the next few decades.

  10. LadyRoisin

    Very good post on @leftfootfwd by the legendary John Stewart @HACAN1 on the possible #Heathrow u-turn http://t.co/iixx3lPq

  11. John Stewart

    Very good post on @leftfootfwd by the legendary John Stewart @HACAN1 on the possible #Heathrow u-turn http://t.co/iixx3lPq

  12. Claire Butler

    RT @leftfootfwd: Heathrow: The whirlpool of uncertainty is playing to the aviation industry’s advantage http://t.co/gahGxoNe

  13. AirportWatch

    Heathrow: The whirlpool of uncertainty is playing to the aviation industry’s advantage – by John Stewart. http://t.co/wtIEbaRG

  14. Gill

    Very good post on @leftfootfwd by the legendary John Stewart @HACAN1 on the possible #Heathrow u-turn http://t.co/iixx3lPq

  15. George Smeeton, WWF

    #Heathrow: The whirlpool of uncertainty is playing to the aviation industry’s advantage http://t.co/RovPWb87 by @HACAN1 on @leftfootfwd

  16. Nick Molho

    #Heathrow: The whirlpool of uncertainty is playing to the aviation industry’s advantage http://t.co/RovPWb87 by @HACAN1 on @leftfootfwd

  17. WWF Public Affairs

    RT @leftfootfwd & @AirportWatch: Heathrow: The whirlpool of uncertainty is playing to the aviation industry’s advantage http://t.co/ZLctgyWf

  18. Plane Stupid

    RT @leftfootfwd: Heathrow: The whirlpool of uncertainty is playing to the aviation industry’s advantage http://t.co/3ZjJ9wWI

  19. Alex

    Interesting comparison between Osborne and Thatcher, I wonder if this will become a theme of his time in office…

  20. As Heathrow grows, noise and air pollution needs to be tackled | Left Foot Forward

    […] Heathrow: The whirlpool of uncertainty is playing to the aviation industry’s advantage 26 Mar […]

  21. Katie Stanton

    Heathrow: The whirlpool of uncertainty is playing to the aviation industry’s advantage http://t.co/kfMLF3rX #bbcsp

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