Effect Of A New Heathrow Runway
On Destinations

Introduction

There has been an extensive lobbying campaign by Heathrow Airport to convince politicians and opinion formers that the regions will benefit economically from Heathrow expansion.  The argument being that there will be more long-haul routes to countries such as China, thereby facilitating trade.  It remains completely unproven that having more direct destinations would in fact noticeably benefit UK trade and the economy because all destinations will be available with a change of plane anyway.  However, this paper just examines the changes to numbers of direct destinations resulting from Heathrow expansion, especially the effect on destinations from regional airports.

Destination data

The Airports Commission (AC) carried out a detailed analysis of direct routes and destinations, the results being published in ‘Strategic Fit – updated forecasts’ July 2015. [1] The number of destinations was forecast in the case of a new (third) runway at Heathrow, termed R3. The number of destinations was also forecast for a ‘do minimum’ case.  This assumes no new runway at Heathrow but, crucially, no new runways anywhere else.  The do minimum destinations can be subtracted from the destinations with R3 to show the effects of the new runway.

Results

As might be expected, the number of direct destinations served by the UK is larger with R3 than do minimum.  The effect is however quite slight.  The total destinations served is virtually the same but the number of destinations served daily increases 4 to 5%.  Total longhaul destinations are increased by 0 to 2% but the number served daily increases by 6 to 11%.  (The ranges reflect different assumptions made by the AC on carbon emissions.)  

There are large increases in destinations served by Heathrow with R3.  But these cause a reduced number of destinations served by regional airports.  Total destinations served reduce by 4 to 5% while daily destinations reduce by 11%.  The effect on longhaul destinations is equally significant – 7 to 9% for total destinations and 9 to 12% for daily destinations.

See appendix for figures quoted and references.

Conclusions

The conclusions from AC’s data are clear.  While a third runway would increase slightly the number of direct destinations served by the UK, the number of destinations served by regional airports would be appreciably less.  It is hard to see how this could be good for regional economies.

A new runway will tend to increase the concentration of aviation-related and aviation-dependent industries in the southeast SE and away from the regions.  It will also mean that government expenditure, estimated at £4bn to £17bn will be spent in the southeast and thus not available to the regions.

Appendix – Number of direct destinations served at 2050

 

The following tables show the number of destinations forecast to be served by 2050 with and without a new Heathrow runway, according to the Airports Commission (AC).  The destinations served by all UK airports and those served by regional airports are shown separately.  “Regional airports for this purpose is all except London’s airports.  The effect of a third runway is calculated by simple subtraction or division.  Figures are given for daily destinations, where there is at least one flight per day, and all destinations, which includes services of all frequencies.

Data for these tables is taken directly from the Airports Commission (AC) report ‘Strategic Fit: Forecasts. July 2015’.  References are given to the table (T) and page number (p) of the report. 

“DM” is the AC’s ‘Do Minimum’ scenario where there is no new runway in the SE or anywhere else in the country. “R3” is where the Heathrow NW option is built but there is no new runway anywhere else.

The AC used a number of forecast scenarios with more or less ‘optimistic’ growth projections.  However, the one it based its conclusions and report upon is ‘Assessment of Need’.

“Diff” is the difference between R3 and DM destinations; positive number meaning more destinations with R3, negative number means less.  Differences are shown in absolute and percentage terms.  “Calc” means calculated from data in the table.

 

Destinations served by all UK airports (carbon traded)

 

Daily destinations

Total destinations

Dom-estic

Short-haul

Long-haul

Total

Source

Dom-estic

Short-haul

Long-haul

Total

Source

DM

27

135

83

245

T5.9, p86

29

243

130

402

T5.11, p88

R3

28

137

92

257

T6.27, p159

29

243

133

405

T6.33, p165

Diff

+1 (+4%)

+2 (+1%)

+9 (+11%)

+12 (+5%)

Calc

+0 (+0%)

+0 (+0%)

+3 (+2%)

+3 (+1%)

Calc

 

Destinations served by regional airports (carbon traded)

 

Daily destinations

Total destinations

Dom-estic

Short-haul

Long-haul

Total

Source

Dom-estic

Short-haul

Long-haul

Total

Source

DM

27

99

26

152

T5.9, p86

29

233

99

361

T5.11, p88

R3

27

85

23

135

T6.27, p159

29

225

92

346

T6.33, p165

Diff

+0 (+0%)

-14

(-14%)

-3

(-12%)

-17

-11%

Calc

+0 (+0%)

-12

(-5%)

-7

(-7%)

-15

(-4%)

Calc

 

In its forecasts and estimates of economic benefits, the Airports Commission (AC) used two different approaches to address the issue of aviation’s climate changing emissions.  One approach is ‘carbon traded’.  Here a ‘cost of carbon’ is assumed to be included in air fares and this feeds through to demand and economic benefits.  The approach is called carbon traded because the cost of carbon (supplied by Department of Energy and Climate Change) is based on the assumption that airlines will have to purchase carbon permits in a traded market.  The above tables are AC’s carbon traded scenarios.

AC’s alternative approach is ‘carbon capped’.  Here the amount of carbon that aircraft can emit is capped at a level that is consistent with the UK’s CO2 target in the Climate Act and budgets.  The tables below shows the effect of a third runway in AC’s carbon capped scenario.

Neither of AC’s approaches take account of non-CO2 emissions that are estimated to add another 60% to aviation’s climate impact.

 

Destinations served by all UK airports (carbon capped)

 

Daily destinations

Total destinations

Dom-estic

Short-haul

Long-haul

Total

Source

Dom-estic

Short-haul

Long-haul

Total

Source

DM

27

132

82

241

T5.10, p87

29

241

130

400

T5.12, p8

R3

27

137

87

251

T6.28, p160

29

238

130

397

T6.34, p166

Diff

+0 (+0%)

+5 (+4%)

+5 (+6%)

+10 (+5%)

Calc

+0 (+0%)

-3

(-1%)

+0 (+0%)

-3

-1%

Calc

 

Destinations served by regional airports (carbon capped)

 

Daily destinations

Total destinations

Dom-estic

Short-haul

Long-haul

Total

Source

Dom-estic

Short-haul

Long-haul

Total

Source

DM

27

86

23

136

T5.10, p87

29

230

94

353

T5.12, p89

R3

26

74

21

121

T6.28,p160

29

220

86

335

T6.34,p166

Diff

-1

(-4%)

-12

 (-14%)

-2

(-9%)

-15

(-11%)

Calc

+0 (+0%)

-10

(-4%)

-8

(-9%)

-18

(-5%)

Calc

 

Contact details
Nic Ferriday, West London Friends of the Earth
020 8357 8426 ; 07873 388453 ; wlfoe@btinternet.com



[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/439687/strategic-fit-updated-forecasts.pdf