As the government stalls on deciding which London airport should be awarded a new runway, Flybe has once more proposed opening up RAF Northolt to scheduled commercial flights.
The airline claims this would provide enhanced regional access to London and to long haul connections at neighbouring Heathrow airport, located six miles from Northolt.
“Independent of a decision on airport capacity expansion at either Heathrow or Gatwick, which may take well over a decade to implement, the government has been presented with an immediately actionable solution at Northolt that would enhance regional connectivity to Heathrow and the capital at no additional cost to the taxpayer,” said Saad Hammad, CEO of Flybe.
“Northolt is available right here, right now. It is a military airport that is used largely by a few wealthy VIPs and could easily be opened up to scheduled commercial flights with less noisy aircraft.
“No one knows when the Government will get round to making a decision on South East runway capacity. When it does, it will be at least ten years before any incremental runway capacity becomes a reality, even in the unlikely event that either airport in contention unreservedly accepts the Government’s decision and not delay the start of construction through lengthy legal challenges.
“Flybe has long been proposing to the Government that it open up RAF Northolt to scheduled services. This would give the UK regions some of the immediate connectivity benefits of a new South East runway with none of the environmental disadvantages. We also estimate it would contribute an additional £7m annually to the government in landing fees and APD.
“Sadly, however, the Ministry of Defence has rebuffed our proposal to-date, but we are keen the new PM reviews the case for RAF Northolt. We really believe it would be a win-win solution for all – the only people who would lose out are the wealthy few who fly in and out of there in noisy private executive jets. It would be a great opportunity for Mrs. May to demonstrate her commitment to work for the many rather than the privileged few.”