Demo and Report challenge rationale for future expansion of Heathrow

A demonstration will take place outside the CBI headquarters in London on 23rd May…

A demonstration will take place outside the CBI headquarters in London on Monday 23rd May to protest at the launch of Future Heathrow, an new industry-backed body set up to argue for the expansion of the airport (1). Monday’s launch will see Lord Soley, the former Labour MP Clive Soley (2), unveiled as Future Heathrow’s new Campaign Director. To challenge the arguments made by Future Heathrow that a 3rd runway and a 6th terminal are required for economic reasons, HACAN ClearSkies has issued a report which shows that, of the 22 million additional passengers who used Heathrow in 2004 compared with 1992, 19 million were transfer or transit passengers (3), just passing through the airport, thus contributing very little to the UK economy.

The HACAN ClearSkies Study reveals:

  • between 1992 and 2004, of the 22 million additional passengers using Heathrow, 19 million were transfer or transit passengers

  • in 1992, transfer and transit passengers only made up 9% of passengers using the airport; by 2004, they made up 35% of passengers

  • transit and transfer passengers pay no Air Passenger Duty as they are just passing through

It also produces figures which give the lie to the aviation industry’s claims that a high number of transfer and transit passengers using the airport, while not directly contributing much to the economy, do make the airport more attractive to business because it serve more destinations:

  • Heathrow is serving fewer destinations now than in 1992 – down from around 200 in the early 1990s to 184 today

  • Gatwick, which has few transfer or transit passengers, now serves more destinations that Heathrow – 188.

The study also refutes the claims that London’s airports are being overtaken by Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Paris:

  • it shows that 128 million people used London’s airports ( Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and London City) in 2004, compared with 73 million using Paris, 51 million Frankfurt and 42 million Amsterdam

  • and that, between 1995 and 2004, there was an increase of 45 million people using London’s airports compared – much higher than the increase at Paris (18 million), Amsterdam (17 million) and Frankfurt (12 million).

John Stewart, Chair of HACAN ClearSkies, said, “Our study gives the lie to the industry claims that Heathrow needs to be expanded for economic reasons. London’s airports are not losing out to Europe’s airports. Indeed, if transfer and transit passenger numbers were reduced to sensible levels, the number of planes using Heathrow could actually be cut without hurting the national economy. The aviation industry should stop dressing up its desire to make ever-higher profits as “the national economic interest”. It is a pity that Clive Soley has fallen for their argument. We urge him to think again and quit lobbying for a bigger Heathrow which will bring so much extra misery to his former constituents.”

Stewart added, “Our members will be amongst those demonstrating outside the CBI on Monday to express their anger at the way Future Heathrow is willing to ride roughshod over their interests, but we are also challenging the very economic rationale behind their arguments.”

Notes to editors

  1. Amongst the key backers of Future Heathrow are the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the London Chamber of Commerce, British Airways, the TUC and the trade unions, AMICUS and BALPA (the pilots union).

  2. Until the General Election, Clive Soley was the Labour MP for Ealing, Acton and Shepherd’s Bush.

  3. A transit passenger is one who flies into and departs from Heathrow on the same aircraft. A transfer passenger changes planes at Heathrow.

For more information contact:

John Stewart on 020 7737 6641 or 07957 385650

For information on the impact of a 3rd runway on the local community around Heathrow, contact Christine Shilling, Press Officer, NOTRAG on 020 8759 7389.

For information on the impacts of expansion at Heathrow on climate change, Friends of the Earth have issued a press release – contact Richard Dyer, their Aviation Campaigner, 07940 850328.