Incorporating RAF Northolt into Heathrow airport in a bid to solve London’s air capacity problems would be “total chaos”, according to a travel agent.
Speculation has increased in recent days that the government is willing to revisit the idea of building a third runway at London’s largest airport.
One possibility that has been mooted is to develop north west London’s RAF Northolt, which is some six miles away from Heathrow, and effectively use it as a third runway.
But West End Travel managing director David Segel is adamant that this will not provide a solution to the capacity problem London must solve if it is to compete with hub airports on the continent.
Segel said: “It will be total chaos because, in my opinion, everything has to be self-contained and to start mixing is like staying in a hotel with two wings. You’re in one room, but your mate is halfway down the road.
“Heathrow is a hub and it must compete with Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt, but none of these airports dilute their intake. In Paris they don’t say ‘we will fly you into Charles De Gaulle, but will run a rail link to Le Bourget or Orly’ – it needs to be a one-stop shop.”
Segel believes developing an additional runway at RAF Northolt would only be the beginning of development work, as new facilities would need to be built to accommodate thousands of passengers a day.
“The logistics won’t add up,” said Segel. “There is only a small airport but with a big runway, would that work? You would need facilities equal to what you have at Heathrow at the moment. It is not workable and what the government are trying to do is keep everyone sitting on the fence.”
Any move to consider a third runway at Heathrow airport could be potentially toxic to mayor of London Boris Johnson’s re-election campaign. The May 3 election is expected to be a two-horse race between Johnson and Labour candidate Ken Livingstone.
Johnson said a third runway would be an “environmental disaster” which would result in a “huge increase in planes over London, and intolerable traffic and fumes in the west of the city”. Johnson ruled out a third runway at Heathrow while he is mayor.
Livingstone’s camp have seized upon the rumours of a rethink in government and accused Johnson of doing nothing while the quality of lives of millions of Londoners could be affected.