On Monday 15 July, Mayor of London Boris Johnson spoke out in favour of the government buying Heathrow Airport for an estimated £15bn and transforming it into a thriving residential and commercial district rather than expanding it to meet passenger demands. Heathrow Airport currently covers 1,227 hectares of land with 186 aircraft stands and serves 184 destinations in 80 countries.
Johnson has been guided on the issue by his aviation adviser Daniel Moylan who attended WAN’s East or West? aviation debate in February this year, where 64% of the assembled experts voted in favour of aviation developments in east London as opposed to the construction of a third runway at Heathrow.
Johnson presented three options for developments to meet aviation demands which would support his suggested residential and commercial scheme at Heathrow. These are: a new hub airport in the Thames Estuary designed by Foster + Partners; an artificial airport island affectionately termed ‘Boris Island’ off the Kentish coast; and the expansion of Stansted Airport to 4 runways. For Johnson these are all considered ‘superior to Heathrow’ developments.
Employment has been a big concern to those speaking out against closing Heathrow Airport with 76,000 individuals currently employed at the airport site however Johnson has claimed that a new hub airport could provide 375,000 new jobs by 2050. Deeming plans for a third runway at Heathrow Airport ‘crackers’, Johnson compared London to other airports overseas, highlighting the inability of an expansion scheme at Heathrow to meet these competitors on an even footing.
This point was made at WAN’s East or West? aviation debate in February where Daniel Moylan said: “We need to look beyond this country and learn something from other countries like The Netherlands, France, Germany and the USA. But we’re not doing it. The sooner we make this project happen, the better the advantages will be for the country in the long term.”