Ryanair boss calls Boris Island 'hare-brained'

Runways at Heathrow Airport Plans for a third runway at Heathrow Airport were scrapped in May

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The Mayor of London has again waded into the argument over aviation capacity, telling business leaders that building a new four-runway hub airport in the Thames Estuary is the only way for the UK to be able to compete on the world stage.

Boris Johnson, who was addressing members at the annual CBI Conference, again demanded that a third runway should be ruled out at Heathrow Airport.

He said it was time to be bold and said a new hub airport would help economic growth and create hundreds of jobs in the South East.

Of course he was playing to a largely sympathetic audience - leading business figures, many of whom have lobbied for aviation expansion.

Prime Minister David Cameron addressed the same delegates earlier in the day and spoke about the need for economic growth and new infrastructure projects but interestingly he did not mention aviation.

'Kicking the can'

The government recently set up the Davies Commission looking at this issue and it won't report back until after the next general election in 2015. But Mr Johnson did not steer clear and he said that a new hub airport in the Thames Estuary - dubbed Boris Island - was the only real solution.

His intervention came as MPs on the Transport Committee were taking evidence from key figures in the aviation industry including senior executives at Virgin and Easyjet as well as Michael O'Leary from Ryanair.

He accused the government of "kicking the can" down the road when it comes to making a decision on aviation. He also said building a Boris Island hub airport would be "stupid, hare-brained".

A lot of the arguments have been heard before but there is no doubt from the evidence they gave that business is deeply frustrated that the government still has not made a decision on aviation capacity.

I think there is a real sense of frustration among business figures that the decision has been as they see it kicked into the long grass. And that is felt even amongst Tory MPs.

The Richmond MP Zac Goldsmith has been tweeting today on the issue and asked: "Does anyone have any idea at all where the Govt stands on Airports?"

He also said: "So the same PM whose dithering on airports will cost 3-6 years, is now enraged by the delays affecting big infrastructure decisions?"

His comments won't endear him to the boss but perhaps reflect the frustration felt by the lack of clarity on this issue.

Louise Stewart Article written by Louise Stewart Louise Stewart Political editor, South East

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  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    Is there any data on passengers points of origin within the UK
    I'm sure quite a lot of people use the SE Airports who don't live in the SE.

    Whatever happened to the idea of a "Central England" Airport?
    Regional expansion plans?
    Adding commercial terminals on less sensitive/defunct RAF bases?

    Whilst I'm sure there are many good/bad reasons for the SE
    Are all options being explored

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Those wanting to use London airport simply to transfer to another plane flying to non-UK destination should be encouragered to use Schipol, Paris, or Franfurt as their 'Hub Airport'.
    Capacity should only be provided for passengers bound for the the UK or starting out from the UK.
    The country does not need to lumber itself with gigantic airports simply to swell BAA profits with 'transfer traffic'

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Shouldn't we be trying to reduce the number of flights, and developing less polluting transport infrastructure, rather than wasting billions on the 'any growth is good at any price' myth?

    It would make far more sense to invest in improved rail links to Europe and an improved and expanded UK and international high speed rail network.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Interesting just after this story was posted a promo story for the Boris Island gang appeared. Heathrow makes business sense but extra flights will limit Tory constituency property prices in West London and Home Counties. It is laughable that this shambles has dragged on. Labour bit the bullet and committed to go ahead and then we had to have this lot..

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    If we need another runway in the south east why not use Manston? It would be more cost effective, apparentyl there is already a railway cutting linking it to the main line. Upgading the line along the north kent coast would give access to St Pancras in 40 mins (similar timing to central London from Heathrow, Luton, Stanstead and Gatwick. More importantly it would rejuvenate Thanet


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