“Disingenuous nonsense.” The airports’ PR battle.

Articles, The Future of Heathrow, The NewsEditor

From the FT:

London’s two main airports are fighting to win public support ahead of an imminent decision on whether Heathrow or Gatwick should benefit from extra capacity to solve the southeast’s capacity crunch.

John Holland-Kaye, chief executive of Heathrow, has even raised the possibility that Gatwick may be promoting a second runway simply to stymie his own plans for a third.

“Some people I talk to would say, of course, they [Gatwick] never mean to do anything anyway; they just want to stop us expanding,” he said. “I have no idea.”

The comments, dismissed as “disingenuous nonsense” by Gatwick, demonstrate how tensions are rising ahead of the publication of the independent Davies Commission into Britain’s aviation capacity.

This marks only the latest salvo in the back-and-forth we’ve seen between the two airports as we head towards the Davies Commission’s final report later in the summer.

Lavish advertising campaigns have battered commuters, calling on them to ‘Take Britain Further’ or choose ‘Gatwick, obviously.’

Neither option is ideal and there are strong advocates on both sides of the debate. Heathrow itself even looks as if it will be seeking to expand while its Mayor and MP (likely one and the same after May) support a different option altogether.

It is easy to imagine that Sir Howard’s report will not be end of this matter at all. At the moment it is keeping the lid on an escalating rivalry. It is hard to imagine that it will stay in place after this summer.

London needs to move forward on this issue. But we can't but fear that the strong views of the two airport CEOs suggest that we might step into a legal quagmire this summer rather than towards a conclusion.