HS2 and aviation
HS2 and aviation are inextricably linked. HS2 should alleviate the need for many domestic air routes and will allow many UK airports to expand their catchment area and compete with each other, driving down prices and improving customer service.
The recent news that Virgin Atlantic will begin operating a Manchester to Heathrow service three times a day highlights is indicative of a problem that currently blights the UK. Most recently, Heathrow slots have been given over to new domestic services (to Leeds and Manchester) – rather than new business-generating links to China and the Far East.
Currently the UK’s aviation activity is largely confined to Heathrow. 78 per cent of the UK’s direct flights to the world (excluding Europe) are operated from Heathrow and Gatwick. This is good news for the South East but is unsustainable for the UK as it means that investment and jobs tend to accrete in the South East. Currently many passengers fly to Heathrow to connect to flights to India and China, clogging up valuable landing slots at Heathrow. It also siphons jobs and economic activity out of the regions.
HS2 allows access to Birmingham Airport for many
We hear that Heathrow is at capacity. This is unsurprising given that 650,000 people fly between Manchester and Heathrow alone each year. In June 2011, 433 flights left Heathrow per week bound for domestic destinations. In this same period 479 flights left Heathrow for South Asia, South East Asia, North East Asia and Central Asia, South America, Central America and the Caribbean. A thousand flights a week link Heathrow with other European hubs, rather than serving new markets, direct.
Currently many commentators are urging the Government to adopt a distributed aviation model, using existing capacity at other airports and releasing capacity at Heathrow. HS2 will allow people in large parts of London and the South to access Birmingham Airport as quickly as they can Heathrow. Other Airports can be linked to HS2, providing customer choice and national resilience that simply doesn’t exist now.
HS2 will help our airports better use their existing capacity to link UK Plc with valuable overseas markets.
Jerry Blackett, chief executive Birmingham Chamber of Commerce