Ryanair boss calls Boris Island 'hare-brained'

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Plans for a third runway at Heathrow Airport were scrapped in May

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.

More on this story