Two runways

PUBLISHED: 12:15 19 January 2006 | UPDATED: 20:19 03 May 2010

SIR, - Re the proposed Luton Airport development. Having read the latest newsletter (January 06, issue 3) from Luton Airport, I find their approach disingenuous. Their objectives are based on accommodating 30-million passengers by 2030 at the latest and m

SIR, - Re the proposed Luton Airport development. Having read the latest newsletter (January 06, issue 3) from Luton Airport, I find their approach disingenuous. Their objectives are based on accommodating 30-million passengers by 2030 at the latest and maybe by 2020. They say that their preferred option for this is to adopt Plan D which envisages construction of a replacement runway with the old runway remaining - and I quote: "to be used for emergencies and when the replacement runway requires maintenance". For them this is clearly the best option because it assures minimum disruption to the operation of the airport during the construction of the new runway. However I think we should be in no doubt, despite their assurances to the contrary, that by 2030 if not sooner, this will lead to Luton being a full two-runway airport with the existing runway also being extended at the expense of the environmental buffer included in their plan. I believe this will happen not only to achieve the predicted 30-million passengers but to allow them the further growth in passenger numbers beyond that target which must be their business aim. I take this view based on a comparison with Gatwick Airport. Gatwick has been accommodating a steady volume of around 30-million passengers a year for the last eight years; there has been no overall growth in passenger numbers during that time due to the constraint of having just one runway - it is at capacity. This is acknowledged in the Government White Paper which allows that there is considerable pressure for Gatwick to have a second runway built, and this not happening would be a major contribution to Luton having to accommodate 30-million passengers by the earlier date of 2020. Gatwick has been handling 30-million passengers on approximately 250,000 aircraft movements each year, or roughly 120 passengers per movement. I believe Luton currently averages no more than 100 passengers per airline movement so given that "London Luton Airport will continue to predominantly attract aircraft of a similar size as today" and that "only five per cent of our future aircraft traffic will be larger than today", it would need at least 300,000 aircraft movements to accommodate the 30-million passengers at Luton - movements which, based on the experience at Gatwick, would far exceed the capacity of one runway. The figures quoted here and on which my view is based are published airport statistics from the Civil Aviation Authority. Before I am accused of being a NIMBY, let me state that I earn my living in the aviation industry and that I believe in the future growth of air transport, but I also believe the industry must be responsible and not mislead in order to achieve its aims. As a Harpenden resident I am not concerned that there would be substantially more aircraft noise from Luton. Harpenden in general only gets what is called "sideline" noise from the airport and this will not change. Plus aircraft will, over the next 25 years, become much quieter than today. Where I am concerned is over the potential lack of future provision of local infrastructure to accommodate the increase in vehicle traffic and pressure on local amenities that would result from substantial development at Luton. KEITH TOMLIN, Acacia Walk, Harpenden.

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