THE proposal for a new Island airport on the Thames Estuary has been rejected by the Airports Commission. The estuary airport, which was planned to be built on the Isle of Grain in the East of London had huge backing from London’s mayor Boris Johnson and was even nicknamed ‘Boris Island.’
Sir Howard Davis, chairman of the Airports Commission agreed that the plan was unviable due to the cost, economic disruption and environmental issues. The development of the four runway airport would have cost the tax payers around £100bn (€126bn). Sr. Howard said in the commission’s report, “While we recognise the need for a hub airport, we believe this should be a part of an effective system of competing airports to meet the needs of a widely spread and diverse market like London’s. There are serious doubts about the delivery and operation of a very large hub airport in the estuary. The economic disruption would be huge and there are environmental hurdles which it may prove impossible, or very time-consuming to surmount.”
Mr. Johnson contends that Britain needs to remain competitive and therefore a hub airport, which allows airlines to take advantage of transfer passengers to fill flights and will deliver the connections to fast-growing economies abroad. He also stated that Gatwick is a “point to point” airport, where the majority of passengers fly direct to their destination.
The decision not to shortlist Boris Island leaves the commission with three alternatives: adding a new runway at Gatwick, to add a third runway at Heathrow or lengthen an existing runway at Heathrow.