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Innovations and technology nullifies Heathrow need, says Richmond MP Zac Goldsmith
A massive increase in smaller, more fuel efficient planes during the next decade blows apart Heathrow’s argument for the need for a single hub airport, Zac Goldsmith has said.
The nine-fold increase in the new generation of planes - the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A350, which can fly non-stop from London to the northern edge of Australia – will have a massive impact on the way airports are run.
The planes, nicknamed hub busters, will reduce the scale of passenger demand needed to make long-haul routes viable and encourage airlines to bypass hub airports to serve direct connections Conservative MP Mr Goldsmith said the development was an important factor for the Davies Commission to consider and suggested better use could be made of smaller airports.
The MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston said: “This signals a dramatic technological shift that moves us away from the traditional hub and spoke transfer model, and towards a model where air travel, even over very long distances, is primarily non-stop.
“It absolutely blows apart the case for a mega hub, and strengthens the case for a constellation of competing airports each with improved transport links connecting them to central London.”
Heathrow has long argued the need for a single hub airport – a claim supported by Boris Johnson, although he does not want to see a third runway built.
A Heathrow spokesman said: “It’s not true that new planes will remove the need for a successful hub airport and airlines are not about to change their fundamental business models.
“90 per cent of 787 orders are from network airlines operating a hub model and the first 787 at Gatwick will be flying to leisure destinations because that is the market served by point to point airports like Gatwick.
“The 787s at Heathrow will use transfer passengers to support routes to long haul business destinations such as Guangzhou, New Delhi and Austin.
“A successful and expanded hub airport is the only way for the UK to connect to emerging economies around the world and benefit from the trade, jobs and economic growth those routes bring.”
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