Heathrow: “Davies must add SIX YEARS to Hub’s delivery claims for a Third Runway”

Heathrow Airport Ltd has rubbished rival Heathrow Hub’s claims that it could have a Third Runway operational by 2023. It says it would more likely take until 2029 to resolve complexities associated with Hub’s plans, and until 2032 for new terminal capacity.

Forget Africa, well over a third of Heathrow traffic remained destined for short haul flights to Europe in January while a quarter of passengers took flights to North America – which saw a 3% jump in numbers.

Forget Africa, well over a third of Heathrow traffic remained destined for short haul flights to Europe in January while a quarter of passengers took flights to North America – which saw a 3% jump in numbers.

Those opposed to airport expansion often lament how difficult it is to contend with the thousands of pages of facts, figures, and spin produced from such well-funded heavyweights as Heathrow and Gatwick.  The antidote – at least until a single scheme emerges victorious in the Summer – is to watch them savage each other’s cases, much as Helioslough and Goodman did over SIFE in 2013.

Heathrow has gone all out to bring the limitations of its rivals’ proposals to the attention of Sir Howard Davies. Submitting a further 200 pages of “evidence” to the Airports Commission it has dismissed the business case of a second hub at Gatwick and shredded Heathrow Hub’s claims to being the “deliverable” Heathrow solution.

2023 Vs 2029: the lost years
 18 months (or more) to transfer intellectual property rights
 1-2 years extra for planning consent process
 2 years+ for complexity of motorway realignment
 ?? for night working to avoiding impact to existing operations

Heathrow Airport Ltd claims that its own analysis of Hub’s plans suggest the earliest its new runway could be completed by would be 2029, some 3 years later than the Commission’s own appraisal of 2026 and 4 years later than its scheme for a brand new Colnbrook runway. The earliest date for Terminal completion similarly would be 2032.

A Poyle runway, HAL says, would impact upon more of the existing airport, more of the M25 motorway and more rivers than the Colnbrook runway. “These essential existing pieces of infrastructure will need to be kept fully operational throughout at today’s capacities,” the airport says.

HAL says even shortening the existing northern runway would require most of the work to be carried out at night to avoid impact to existing operations.

But it says that Hub has significantly underestimated the planning consent process which could take as long as four years to complete even under the new Development Consent Order process for large infrastructure projects.

Youtube's advertising policy won't have helped Heathrow's case.  The airport released its new video on February 3.

YouTube’s advertising policy won’t have helped Heathrow’s case. The airport released its new video on February 3.

It has also failed to account for the length of time it would take for the intellectual property rights relating to an Extended Northern Runway (ENR) to be transferred from Heathrow Hub Ltd to Heathrow Airport Ltd:

“Following any decision by Government, in the event that that choice was the ENR scheme, there would inevitably follow a period of due diligence and commercial negotiation between the two parties. This would include an examination of the safety case and detailed discussions on achievable runway rates in order to ensure that the business case assumptions made by the Commission were verifiable by HAL.”

Our assessment of the time period required for this whole process is a minimum of 18 months with the potential to take considerably longer if legal dispute was involved.

Heathrow suggests the process may not be straightforward, could involve challenging assumptions made by the Commission itself, and could take upwards of 18 months to achieve:

“The purchase of the intellectual property rights that the ENR promoters hold would then be considered. This would involve scrutiny of their patents including testing whether either of them infringe other existing patents established in the US. Only after these issues were satisfactorily resolved could commercial negotiations proper begin. Our assessment of the time period required for this whole process is a minimum of 18 months with the potential to take considerably longer if legal dispute was involved.”

Heathrow Hub: the undeliverable solution
  Staines Moor SSSI biodiversity value has been underestimated
  Operational difficulties associated with a remote transport hub
  Question marks over amount of respite claimed
  Hub will struggle to positively address safety issues

Aside from the doubling Hub’s construction timetable the airport has also questioned other fundamental aspects of the scheme which it says will make the scheme non-viable.

It continues to question the amount of respite the scheme could offer to local residents, and says the remote transport hub proposed at Iver is a good idea on paper but would not work in practice.

The Staines Moor SSSI site is of national rather than local importance and could derail plans.

But most of all it questions the safety of the scheme, believing that Heathrow Hub will “struggle to positively address” each of 5 questions safety related issues posed by the Commission at the start of last year’s consultation.  The airport also says pilot perception has been overlooked:

“Even if the runway concept can be proven to meet ICAO, EASA and CAA requirements, pilot perception is an important issue to factor into the safety case assessment. This covers all forms of operations including normal, night time and low visibility conditions.”

With all three proposals largely discredited over the last few months on noise, air quality and business case grounds Sir Howard Davies must surely be kicking himself for narrowing his options too soon? 

 

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