Airports Commission shortlist a "success for Heathrow"

The Airports Commission shortlist of options for airport expansion represents a success for industry lobbyists, experts have suggested.

Heathrow: on the shortlist
Heathrow: on the shortlist

The Airports Commission, led by businessman Sir Howard Davies, has announced three options for expanding UK airport capacity, including adding a third runway at Heathrow, lengthening an existing runway at Heathrow and creating a new runway at Gatwick.

The commission will also consider a new airport in the Isle of Grain in north Kent and will issue a final report in summer 2015.

Westminster Advisers managing director Dominic Church praised Heathrow’s campaign.

"It struck the right balance in tone between being reasonable and not holding the Government over a barrel, and hard-edged in stressing the economic sense of opting for Heathrow expansion," he said.

Church added that the commission allowed politicians not to make a commitment on the issue: "The commission takes the politics out of the issue, for the time being, and considers the economic case, not the political case. It allows the Government, and to a large degree the opposition, to abnegate its role to debate the different options. To do so would be suicide before the 2015 election."

A chief of a public affairs agency, who requested not to be named, agreed and said that parties would wait until after the report to take a position.

He said the campaign had been a success for Heathrow: "It represents a huge step forward for Heathrow. It has not one but two options for it, which is pretty amazing considering at one point all three parties were saying no. Gatwick will be pleased because it’s on the list, but that will depend on whether you want a hub airport."

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