Heathrow’s third runway takes off?

Heathrow’s third runway takes off?

Following a protracted legal battle, political wrangling and in the midst of a global pandemic, the Supreme Court yesterday overturned the Court of Appeal’s ruling that the UK Government’s approval of the third runway was illegal, because it failed to take into account the UK’s commitments under the Paris climate agreement.

Prior to the pandemic, Heathrow had been operating at 100% capacity for more than ten years and crying out for more. A detailed enquiry by the Airports Commission concluded in 2018 that London needed a new runway and Heathrow was the best location for it.

This is good news for a sector which has been badly hit by the impact of the global pandemic, but it’s far from a done deal. First the runway still needs to obtain planning permission, which is far from a foregone conclusion given the stringent protections that must be put on place for its local impact.

The route to a third runway also has to contend with the uncertainty around the sector’s recovery and Brexit, as well as environmental and political factors. The strong economic case for expansion highlights the wider benefits which could be felt when the sector recovers.

Furthermore, there remain formidable challenges for the sector as a whole, not just Heathrow, to fall into line with the Paris accord and get to carbon zero by 2050.

Frontier has advised on the economic case for a third runway over many years. Our analysis shows that if Heathrow was not constrained then ticket fares would be lower. Also, with the addition of a third runway, Heathrow could add up to 40 new long haul routes. Wider economic benefits are a key consideration.

We also work extensively on the environmental issues the sector, including advising on how airports like Heathrow can expand in a carbon-neutral way and on the economics of alternative fuels which will play an essential part in the sector meeting those climate challenges.

For more information, please contact media@frontier-economics.com or call +44(0)20 7031 7000.