Airports fit for 2012?

To call this service "Third World" is an insult to the many gleaming and efficient airports of developing nations. In their contemptuous indifference to the customer, the airport authorities remind me of the 1970s, and the trades unions of my childhood. Good old blighty, eh, I whispered at the porthole as we began to descend upon the darkened fields of Sussex. OK, so it was pouring with rain, the grey black clouds rolling like gunsmoke over Gatwick, but think - I told myself - of the advantages of home. Think of all those little inconveniences you never find in England. You never get kept awake by mosquitos whining in your ear. You never get sunburnt after only 10 minutes. You rarely get nappy rash from walking around all day in wet swimming trunks. Yes, it was still in a mood of post-holiday euphoria that we taxied to the terminal, where the lights winked welcomingly in the puddles. And morale was still pretty buoyant 10 minutes later, as we yomped down the interminable Gatwick corridors in the direction of passport control; and even there, our mood was not wholly deflated. It did occur to us to wonder why there were so few passport controllers, and so many hundreds of exhausted travellers shuffling round the oxpens, like inmates of some Victorian penitentiary. But then I saw a sign reminding us of the extra precautions that were necessary these days, and apologising in a nice British way, and my irritation abated; and then we were in the baggage reclaim area, at getting on for 11pm, and after 40 minutes it was no use trying to bicycle-pump my spirits. By this time, I knew that sullen hall. By this time, I knew we stood in hell. Across the vast neon-lit Hades were knots and clumps of dejected humanity. Some sat and stared at the barren carousels; some tried to cheer themselves up by pretending to be their own missing luggage, sitting on the conveyor belts and taking pictures of each other with their mobile phones. Every so often a Pyongyang-style announcement would come over the loudspeaker, proclaiming that the baggage of this or that flight would be making an appearance "shortly". "Huh," said a woman who had arrived on a flight from Las Palmas. "That's what they said two-and-a-half hours ago. They said it would be arriving shortly." She spoke wearily, bitterly - and if there was no particular rage in her voice, it was because there was no one there with whom to be enraged. There were just the telescreens with the list of arrivals, with the advice by each flight that passengers were to "wait in hall", as if, frankly, we had any blooming choice in the matter. By now, it was almost midnight. We wondered whether to abandon the luggage and go home to bed; but that raised overwhelming practical difficulties, and so finally I began the quest for whoever the hell was meant to be in charge. It is a measure of the extreme cowardliness and cynicism of the airport authorities that there was no one from BAA in that baggage hall. There was no one from Servisair, the baggage handlers whose entirely foreseeable "staff shortages" had caused the problem. The only representative of authority was a nice but increasingly rattled young man from the lost luggage department. Shielded behind his attack-proof glass, he told a growing crowd of passengers what he knew. He knew nothing. Why had some bags arrived from Dalaman, and not the others? He didn't know. Where were the bags from Cagliari? He didn't know. All he knew was that our bags were out there somewhere in the dark on the rain-lashed tarmac. We offered to mount a Entebbe-style raid to liberate our luggage, and were told we couldn't do that for health and safety reasons. Where were the baggage handlers? He didn't know. It seemed that he had been in contact with a senior baggage handler as recently as an hour ago, but then this chap had gone out on to the tarmac, to search for the other baggage handlers, and had not been heard of since. Could we ring him? We could not. All he could offer was a photocopied letter from Servisair, in the name of Mr Mark Poynton, the Service Delivery Controller. It must be one of the most snivelling and insincere letters I have ever read. Mr Poynton apologises to passengers for the delayed arrival of their baggage and the inconvenience caused, and regrets that an airline or handling representative "may be unable to attend the arrivals hall" to explain what is going on. What Mr Poynton does not point out is that hundreds of copies of this pseudo-apology have been distributed night after night for the past six nights. In other words, Servisair has known perfectly well that it has too few handlers to handle the baggage. It could quite easily have recruited more handlers, or made some provision for the extra holiday workload - but evidently decided to save money by sodding the public. It ruthlessly refuses to allow its operatives to be exposed to the wrath of the passengers, so that if you want to inform Mr Mark Poynton, Service Delivery Controller, of his chimpanzee-like control of the non-existent delivery of his wretched service, you have to write to him at Room 3037, 3rd floor balcony, South Terminal, Gatwick, RH6 ONP. To call this service "Third World" is an insult to the many gleaming and efficient airports of developing nations. In their contemptuous indifference to the customer, the airport authorities remind me of the 1970s, and the trades unions of my childhood. Gatwick is the eighth most busy airport in the world, and the sheer volume of passengers coming to London airports is a testimony to the attractions of the city and the dynamism of the British economy. But in four years, we are due to welcome the world to the London Olympics, and we need to sort this chaos out now. With Gatwick full to bursting, and with Heathrow's third runway already bitterly contested - and I bet it never gets built - it is also ever more urgent that we investigate the possibility of a long-term solution, in the form of a new and more eco-friendly international airport at a site in the Thames estuary - of which you will be hearing a lot more in due course. [This article was first posted in the Daily Telegraph, 12 August 2008 under the heading: "Fly into Gatwick and see why London needs a new airport".]

49 thoughts on “Airports fit for 2012?”

  1. Boris, I hope you enjoyed your holiday. Airport chaos? Don’t get me started! Have you tried to meet anyone at Heathrow T5 international end? Two sets of doors about 80m apart opposite each other so that you cannot see both at once and incoming passengers can ‘escape’ at either end in a planeload tidal-wave of confused huamnity. No immediately visible airport information desk as that, with lots of barely occupied people, is situated between international and domestic. Everyone can see a huge coffee bar. How defeatist is that? it positively shouts, “Expect delays!” The website claims bags arrive in 15 minutes but when you get to the airport, you are told to allow 60 minutes for people with bags and, apparently, they searched the world’s best systems to arrive at that.

    Some years ago, Detroit was a mess and they brought in the Singaporeans on the flimsy excuse that the Singaporeans wanted to see how it was done. When I returned, the Singaporeans had worked their magic and I had my checked baggage in my hand and was in a taxi within 10 minutes of landing. That is world-class.

    Get a team together, Boris, and make London airports welcoming gateways to the UK.

  2. But you don’t understand, Boris. Aircraft lands, luggage has to be unloaded and placed on a trolley. Trolley then has to be driven to carousel and luggage heaved onto moving belt.

    Barcodes make the job a little easier, but do you seriously expect NuLab Britain to produce anyone at managerial or operational level with sufficient skills to execute this brain-blowing task?

  3. They probably read your column about holidaying abroad, thought you were cheeky and decided to get revenge…..

  4. I had quite the opposite happen to me at Heathrow terminal 5 this weekend, returning from Geneva.

    After a very short queue at the passport control desks, I walked briskly through the eerily quiet ‘nothing to declare’ corridor to be met by my baggage (including a bicycle in its oversized packing) already spinning around on the carousel in front of me.

    It took no longer than fifteen minutes to get from aircraft door to arrivals hall. It was a revelation.

  5. Boris, whilst your comments are valid for your
    trip I can’t help but feel that you have made a
    sweeping generalisation of the baggage handling
    staff and all those involved. Try and imagine the
    task that these baggage handlers face, people
    have commented on how busy Gatwick is yet
    they fail to comprehend the amount of baggage
    that goes through the airport each hour. Yes
    there will be mistakes, they are only human, you
    could put an automated system in place but the
    public will only complain when this goes wrong –
    then I guarantee everyone will be demanding
    that it goes back to being handled by staff.
    Each time I have flown, be it from Heathrow,
    Gatwick, Bristol etc I have not encountered more
    than half an hour wait when collecting my bags.
    If I am ever to experience such a delay I will
    think “could I sort hundreds of thousands of
    bags each day and get EVERY one right?”
    Probably not.

  6. BRAVI BORIS! A NEW AIRPORT IN THE ESTUARY–THAT’S THE MOST SENSIBLE THING YOU’VE EVER SAID.
    5 DECADES AGO, AFTER LA GUARDIA GOT CLOGGED, NEW YORK BUILT JFK IN A SIMILAR SITE. GOOD LUCK, AND MAYBE THEY’LL CALL IT AFTER YOU.

    ALISTAIR HORNE

  7. Well Mr Johnson, I fully agree with you. I have lived next to Gatwick for the last 30years and seen it deteriorate from glittering gateway to the uk into a poor excuse for a provincial airport.

    On a recent trip to Venice, we had no sooner left the aircraft, than our luggage was waiting for us. On our return to Gatwick, we arrived at midnight and was the only aircraft. Yet we had to wait over an hour for our luggage. Unexpected? Well yes really as there was only 40 people on the plane and it was the middle of October. There really is no excuse, just poor management and its a shame that this is the first experience many visitors to the uk get.

  8. Over on the Telegraph site some people are asking: why build another airport when there’s room to improve the ones we already have?

    It’s a fair point. But could they ever be transformed enough to cope with the 2012 Olympics? I doubt it. They are inherently bad designs with endless walkways, corridors and stairs to negotiate

    Coastal sites – of which we are particularly well endowed – are the obvious place for airports as they eliminate the plague of aircraft noise over populated areas. This, presumably, is why Boris is looking at the Thames Estuary.

    But again, could a project of this scale be up and running by 2012? They’d still be arguing over a flock of bleedin’ ducks while the last race is run.

    We should take a lesson from the French, who decide on huge civil engineering projects and just get on with it.

    Or exhume I.K. Brunel.

  9. John: I’m impressed! How on earth do you do it? I don’t know Bristol as an airport but unless you have the real misfortune to queue for forever in Immigration, I’m not sure how you have got away with under 30 minutes for checked baggage at LGW and LHR ‘every’ time. Granted, it happens some times. Then there are the times when you play carousel shuffle or try and calm down other passengers faced with no luggage/tired kids or try filling in one of those forms that says your bag is either grey or green but never something in between. May your guardian travelling angel stay with you.

  10. Boris, I’m regularly using Gatwick Airport. In fact, I only use that one because I can get home and back here via that airport only, however my experience is not as bad as you describe yours to be. It’s never been that daunting. I think maybe you’re exaggerating slightly, just a touch, really. I mean, I’m visiting my family, my experience is you get some superlative service there. Much better than some other airports, quite honestly. I never had problems getting my suitcases back nor did I ever have any problems at the passport points. Never, and I see my family rather often.

  11. Doreen, on the Telegraph site (sorry to mention it again) you will see a couple of people commenting who were actually in the same queue as Boris. Clearly he is not exaggerating.

    One of them moans he did not use his position to kick up a stink. I am heartened that he didn’t, for he would only have been accused of throwing his weight about to gain personal advantage. How much more honest to suffer with the rest of the holidaymakers then bring his considerable influence to bear later where it has most effect.

  12. Boris – a simple answer already exists and has for many years but is ignored because of NIMBY minded locals and politicians who must have something new! At Upper Heyford is a disused USAF base currently used to store cars. It is less than a mile from the M40 and an hour from NW London and Birmingham. It could easily become a cargo only facility and relieve the traffic at the other London airports. It won’t help with the baggage retrieval time but it might allow extra capacity in 2012 and until a new SE airport can be constructed.

  13. Sorry to hear about your problems, Boris. It seems as if those in charge of baggage handling at Gatwick could not care less about passengers. They get a staff shortage and are too lazy to do anything about it.

    Mark Poynton should be dismissed and replaced by a real manager. I recently flew to Copenhagen Airport where everything worked very well and efficiently, plus it was very clean. The Labour govt has done everything it can to destroy all that was good in the UK and make us suffer. At least they no longer rule London, although as Gatwick Airport is in East Sussex it is out of your jurisdiction, but I hope that you can influence the owners to take action to improve the baggage handling and other aspects of the airport as soon as possible. Fortunately I flew from Stansted last month, and will fly from City Airport in October, avoiding Gatwick altogether. Seems like everyone should avoid Gatwick Airport for the time being.

  14. For me, it is not the wait that makes me grind my teeth in desperation but the shocking conditions that we have to wait in!

    When visitors come to our country they should be greeted by modern surroundings that are kept immaculately clean and up to date.

    There should be greeters available to help anyone that needs it or at the very least a 24hr information desk and comfortable chairs to sit at for the travel weary.

    My luggage was recently lost on a trip from Heathrow to Toronto. The Canadian staff with their helpful disposition and the nice immaculate and modern surroundings made the situation seem less of an ordeal. As we rushed to make our connecting flight, baggage handlers helped offload the rest of our luggage and my children and I were actually treated like human beings, so unlike the many british airports that I have used.

    Our nation should be the one to set the standard at which others are judged.

  15. Well I’d like to say a word for Customs and Excise – they were a strong and superb organisation and were all but trashed by NuLab who ensured this shambles of border control. I must echo Peter Hitchens (it’s a terrible habit I’m receiving therapy for) and say that NuLab couldn’t protect us from a pigeon dropping and if we need protection we wouldn’t go to them.

    It used to be that an Englishman’s home was his castle and ONLY Customs and Excise could enter (Police had to have a warrant from the courts) but now we have fewer rights and liberties. And the shambles you see at airports is supposed to make us feel better about this?

    Well it doesn’t.

  16. Email: mayor@london.gov.uk – source: http://london.gov.uk/gla/contact.jsp#mayor
    so you can check I am telling the truth. Paul – he is well exaggerating a wee bit. I’ve been using that airport in ages. I don’t care if he didn’t ike his journey, I always like mine, and if he has problems with staff in the airport he should make complaints but leave the public alone about it, I think that goes a longer way.

  17. I don’t doubt you’re telling the truth, Doreen. Not all flights go wrong. It sounds as if you have been fortunate with yours; Boris and the other passengers were not so lucky. Last year when I flew from Gatwick my suitcase didn’t arrive until three days later, so I was one of the unlucky ones.

    It is to Boris’s credit that he did not throw his weight around shouting “Do you know who I am?”. Some famous people do that, and very unpleasant it is too.

  18. But Boris is making it out to be totally messed up and in a state which I merely dnied, based on my experiences, and there are quite a few of them. Doesn’t Boris like to hear some positive words about one of the airports for the city he’s in chare of? Anyway, I know I’m a lucky person and always have been, but so are many others, and I’d like to highlight the positive things before Boris makes it all look like it’s all hopeless and sad!

  19. Many of you are missing Boris’ main point: that London needs a new airport in time for the 2012 Olympics, to accommodate all the people flocking to our country to watch, take part in, or help run the Games.

    His sake of argument was that he had a bad experience in returning to London from his summer holiday. Boris is asking, if this is what Gatwick is like now, what will it be like in 2012 when put under the vast amount of pressure that the Olympics will no doubt cause?

    He doubtless knows that airtravel can be stressful, and that the running of airports is sometimes shoddy, and this needs some work. But his main point is that “London needs a new airport,” which was part of the title of this article when it appeared in the Daily Telegraph.

  20. Well, yes – if my children have to die as a result of catastrophic climate change it would be cool if Boris Johnson also got to enjoy a relaxing short-haul holiday minus “Pyongyang-style announcements” and “Entebbe-style raids” at the airport! Just kidding – maybe think about taking the train.

  21. The muddle over “staff shortages” is, as always, very annoying and quite normal and probably goes something like this:

    Company not making enough profit – directors and managers stay – workforce are cut – 1 person doing the work of 2 or 3 – service begins to falter – chaos ensues – users complain – directors/managers pull their finger(s) out – reinstate workforce.

    That this should happen over the busiest holiday period is, of course, totally logical.

    (And I foresee an additional problem to PaulD’s “flock of bleedin’ ducks” – leaves on the friggin’ runway…)

    And yes, the cargo idea is interesting. Is the site near enough to London, though? The downside could be a very congested M4 – or whatever.

  22. Boris you’re right:

    one’s opinions of an entire nation are often formed within fifteen minutes (or 3hrs?) at a baggage handling “lounge”.

    We are in desperate need of addressing the problem, the resolution of which should only be the just answer to the important interest tourists from all over the world express in visiting our country – not to mention the agreeableness of one’s own return home to order – the fruits of which will always be “peace”.

    Build another Thames Estuary airport!

  23. Hi Boris
    Told you to go to the Scilly Isles. Good enough for St Harold Willson Good enough for me. Ps you can fly or sail. A very nice man will hand you your bag out of the plane if you fly from Lands End.

    Better Luck Next Year.

    Martin

  24. Forget about baggage getting lost at Gatwick. Think about the wider picture such as hundreds if not thousands of members of the public being woken up or kept awake by low flying aicraft arriving and leaving our present London airports where limited land is available for further expansion and would in any event only inconvenience yet more of the population, or the problems associated with passengers’ connections when your flight arrives at one airport and your next departs from another quite apart from the practical difficulties in reaching the centre of London.

    There is only one sensible answer first contemplated in the early 70’s when funding could not but should have been found – a brand new single airport in the Thames Estuary similar to those that have been constructed on reclaimed land in so many other parts of the world providing unlimited opportunity for expansion and much reduced inconvenience to the public complemented by a high speed rail link into the heart of London.

    Part of the cost could be met by providing a home for London’s waste during the construction period and the sale of land released (particulary at Heathrow) for additional housing not to mention the benefit of new jobs that would be created at a time when we are in recession if not depression.

    Congratulations, Boris for throwing your weight behind this initiative but unlike the 70’s see it through and make it happen.

    RayS

  25. Boris the problem that you witnessed at Gatwick will never improve whilst the Servisair management stays the same,just to improve their service they are to soon to make no less than 161 people redundant and replace them with eastern block staff on split shifts and temporary contracts.The present management is made up of a cancer of cronism who couldn’t give you an honest answer even if you gave them a million dollars

  26. Hi Boris, What a fearless hero you are, not being afraid to say what you think on the issues that matter to us. Please stick with it, through good times and bad, London needs you.

  27. I do hope BAA is broken up entirely and all our airports are put into the hands of pioneering and forward-looking management. Hopefully, this may put us, the long-suffering customer, first! To travel through Terminals 1-3 at Heathrow is a revolting experience, I won’t say it’s Third World as many developing countries have far better facilities (as you well say Boris) than this disgusting excuse for an Airport facility.

  28. Top man Boris! About time someone took the long term view and accepted the fact that having the world’s busiest international airport to the West of London, whereby 100s of thousands of jet aircraft have to fly low over our most densley populated city is total and utter lunacy. LHR is a disaster due to its (unplanned) location. Labour’s uncomprehensible obsession with expanding it will make matters a whole lot worse. Good man, get this country a 21st century airport it can be proud of and finally,finally have the guts to shut heathrow.

  29. I remember the many times Ive been to Gatwick airport, and particularly the last time it’s been always fine at least I cant complain, I cant believe this is happening now and the people in charge cant (or do not) want to find a solution to this terrible problem. And YES, absolutely, Britain hast to be ready -and that starts now- for the 2012 Olympic Games!

    …I now live in Latin America and I’ve never faced any major troubles with luggage -maybe little delays sometimes, but nothing compared to wait for HOURS or people in charge avoiding their responsibilities and giving some “apology letter” instead! … so yes, all this situation at Gatwick has nothing to do with developing nations’ airports… (I would avoid the term “3rd world” for respect to the people, that is not the proper term! please keep that in mind)

    Good luck with all the work Mr. Johnson!

  30. Anyone who travels frequently can tell you that LHR is an international joke. In my experience, only Jakarta, Manila and Delhi come close to the hell that is LHR (I can’t speak for Gatwick, but something tells me it isn’t very different). Boris has picked on but one of the many issues facing Britain’s airports – dirty, expensive, outrageously long queues, to name but a few more – and I fear the solution does not lie with building new facilities (look at the fiasco that was the opening of Terminal 5), but with the attitudes of the companies and the people working in those companies.

    As to a solution for 2012, there is no chance of any new facilities in time for the games. It took 15 years to get LHR Terminal 5 from planning to completion. FIFTEEN YEARS!

    When Britain starts to seriously lose out because of this lack of service (and it is evident in service industries across the entire country) and the economy is heading to hell in a handcart (which seems to have started already), maybe then things will change. Maybe. But somehow I doubt it.

  31. As a frequent traveller from Europe to London I avoid Heathrow and Gatwick – the airports are both poorly organised, slow, and the staff are maddeningly aggressive. (I get that there is a security risk, but fifteen minutes of questioning for someone who is an EU resident on a business trip is a waste of my time and theirs).

    I would applaud any move Boris can make to sort them out.

  32. Very interesting piece Boris, sounds like more institutionalised ineptitude, and companies putting profit before the very people that give them a business in the first place.

    I do feel that your use of the term ‘third world’ is slightly outdated, and perhaps offensive to some. At our current epoch in history the claim can be made that no third world can exist, as there is no second world (ie communism). It would be a falsehood to say that that is has totally evapourated, but the second world that existed in the post World War II era is no more.

    Instead such countires sould be refered to as ‘Developing Countires’.

    It appears that there is nothing but doom and gloom for BAA as a whole. After reading other posts and my own experince, is it any wonder that they were dammed in a recent report I ask ?. Is it any suprise that they have been accused of monopolisation and unfair trade ? This is not just a problem that has happened over night, this is the result of years of poor management and profit before people. It is about time that the company was forced to answer for themelves. Their bubble has well and truely burst, and this can only mean brighter times ahead for the traveller.

  33. The attitude of Servisair management was of complete arrogence as shown in the Skyport newspaper following your article which said that you must have been mistaken as they were fully manned up that night and you must have got confused about what day of the week you were referring to. The problem you experienced at the end of your holiday is because Servisair did not take on any staff for the summer season. The other main problem is that the Servisair management delibarately did not lay on enough overtime slots to cover all the work hence each evening after 4pm planes would be met but the luggage would not be touched for up to an hour later at least. But Servisair is not the only handling agent supplying such a poor service so are the others to get maximium profit.
    So is Gatwick going to cope with 2012? No way. It will just be 50 times worse.
    A new airport in the thames estuary would be a good idea but you dont have enough time to build it.
    I would transfer half of gatwicks traffic to manston airport in kent. Demolish the entire south terminal building, pier one and two at gatwick airport. Build a futuristic new terminal building like T5 and a new runway.
    Or your other choice is as a previous contributor has just suggested open former USAF base such as Upper Heyford or expand facilities at Manston with good transport links to London.
    But sadly were British and just not good with change hence why Gatwick Airport is in decline compared to other European Airports.

  34. Don’t know if this is the right place for this comment, but I read in the Standard that Boris is still keen to expand travel on the Thames. This is a fantastic way to travel and I hope this comes to pass – he said he means to honour his promise.

  35. Boris has just let down East & South East London with his approval of Laondon City Airport expansion.
    The same Airport that has lied to it’s neighbours for years e.g. WE’LL NEVER USE JET AIRCRAFT, WE’LL NEVER EXPAND OVER 30,000 FLIGHT A YEAR, WE’LL CREATE 4,000 jobs (this was on the last expansion) 200 WERE CREATED AND NOT EVEN A QUATER WHERE FROM NEWHAM.
    They lie and manipulate everything for their share holders. This is for the good of private enterprise and not for the good of LONDON.
    Thanks Boris I thought you would be different but not even 6 months in the job and you’ve let down a BIG part of London.

    Thanks for nothing.

  36. Boris. Comgratulations on the most excellent idea of the airport in the Thames Estuary. If I remember correctly however, the idea is not knew. A study was done around the 1980s on the same topic and rejected by the then minister for non transport (Heseltine?) who expressed concern about the birds in the Estuary. One other aspect about LHR which needs consideration. If you view the airport from the air particularly at night you can see the thousands of homes completely surronding the site. If you then consider the number of serious accidents that have taken place around the world’s airports over the last few decades e.g. Concorde at CDG etc etc. then the sooner we proceed with a plan such as yours the better and close LHR. As for building a third runway in Middlesex, the stupidity takes the breath away. Keep going.

  37. A new airport in the Thames Estuary? NOT a good idea for local residents thank you! A similar plan was put forward a while ago to use the Cliffe Marshes in north Kent. I think it was decided it would be much too expensive and too much new infrastructure needed in our already crowded south east!

    Now it is suggested to use an area north of the Isle of Sheppey with land reclamation. First of all the bomb on the World War two ship would have to be dealt with! Locals have known of this since the war – they think it would flatten Sheerness if blown up!

    It will be interesting to see what happens to say the least!

    from a ‘local resident’

  38. London needs a proper airport if it is to stay competative and Heathrow can never be that unless BAA are give carte blanche to bulldoze most of west London in order to get the 4 to 6 full length runways that it will eventually need.

    The greatest service you could do for London is to get rid of Heathrow. Not only is it a rubbish airport lowering our standing in the world, but it also pollutes the air and creates noise levels that should be unacceptable in highly populated areas.

    As for all the money that’s been spent on T5, it’s already a giant shopping mall so why not just turn it into what it seems so desperate to become.

  39. How can we stop Ruth Kelly and reject the expansion of Heathrow ? Boris the airport in the Thames estuary is so obviously the ideal long term solution. The first ideas about placing the airport on the sands of the Thames was dropped because birds were more important than the health and welfare of people

    Sadly an accident in London of an aircraft approaching Heathrow could be the real push for the running down of Heathrow.

    So we must stop the Heathrow expansion . How can this be achieved now !

  40. I like the view from our family home on the seafront in Sheerness, but I also remember standing at an upstairs window in January 1953, watching a small unoccupied rowing boat bump down the steps from the seawall and float off in the direction of the town centre down the completely submerged road. Your airport would certainly change the view, but if it’s going to happen, why not extend the vision to encompass a proper dike to the east of Sheppey across to the Essex shore, with a tidal barrier and high-level bridge across the shipping lanes? This would take road traffic bound for the Midlands and North, Scotland, Ireland and North Wales right around London, and it would provide proper protection for the Thames Gateway floodplains, if the loony plans to build on them survive. Just a thought.

    [Thanks, Chris. We’ll make sure Boris sees this. (BorisOffice)]

  41. I am wholly opposed to the construction of an airport anywhere in the Thames Estuary because of the immense damage it would cause to the area’s internationally important wildlife and the wider environment.The whole issue was exhaustively investigated between 2002 and 2005 in the Government’s Aviation White Paper. All the key players, including the aviation industry, contributed. The idea of an airport in the Thames Estuary was conclusively ruled out and upheld by the High Court. In addition to the unprecedented environmental damage and the resulting massive legal implications, the investigation found that an estuary airport did not make sense economically, would not meet the requirements of the aviation industry and presented a significantly higher risk of ‘bird strike’ than at any other major airport in the UK. It would potentially be the single biggest piece of environmental vandalism ever perpetrated in the UK.

  42. Boris, when are you to abondon the London congestion charges? Can you me an exact date? I believe that this was part of your campaign to be elected Mayor. So when exactly are you going to get round to ‘abolishing the CC for London). I understand that the CC in fact, cut down the congestion in London by quite a bit. What plans have you got now to follow Mr Livinstone’s example??? Please let me know. Regards Virginia White

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