More effective use of existing capacity would allow London’s airports to carry millions of additional passengers according to a new London Assembly report.
Research commissioned by the Assembly’s Transport Committee found some airports are using as little as 49% of available slots, suggesting there is sufficient capacity to meet growing demand for air travel.
Evidence presented to the Assembly suggests the use of larger aircraft would also allow airports to serve more passengers without further expansion. At Heathrow it’s claimed this could create capacity for an additional 20 million passengers every year.
The report says any move to encourage passengers to switch from Heathrow to airports such as Gatwick, Luton and Stansted would require improvements to rail and other transport modes.
Stansted Airport told the committee it could attract 1.5 million extra passengers annually if rail journey times from London were reduced from 45 to 30 minutes.
The Assembly hopes its report will inform the findings of the Government’s Airports Commission which is examining ways to improve the UK’s air capacity.
Committee chair Caroline Pidgeon said: “Evidence we received shows that the Airport Commission must examine whether better use of existing airport capacity could be an intelligent cost-effective alternative to building new airports or runways.
“Currently London sees 130 million passengers traveling through our airports each year. The challenge for the government and decision-makers is to find the best way to support the UK’s economy globally while ensuring Londoners are not adversely affected by worsening noise and air pollution from planes flying over the capital.
“In the short term using existing capacity in a smarter way may be the most cost-effective solution.”