Stand off over Stansted

The Prime Minister favours a new runway in Essex, but airlines say it's Heathrow or bust for Britain's aviation industry. Jason Nissé reports

If the Government sanctions a new runway at London Stansted, not only will it never be built, but the decision itself will blight Britain's aviation industry.

The stark warning comes from the UK's two largest airlines, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, which are desperately lobbying the Government to allow a new runway to be built at Heathrow.

Alistair Darling, the Secretary of State for Transport, is due to announce plans for at least one new runway in the south-east of England in an aviation White Paper next month.

The Cabinet is said to be split between whether to allow the first new runway to be built at Stansted in Essex or at the more popular Heathrow. Gordon Brown is said to favour the Heathrow option while Tony Blair believes Stansted is more acceptable politically.

BAA, which owns both airports, has not said which it prefers, though it concedes that the Heathrow scheme makes more sense economically. The Stansted plan, though, faces opposition from not only the airlines, but business and trade unions.

Andrew Cahn, the director of government affairs at British Airways, said: "A runway at Stansted would not get built. Nobody wants it. Nobody would pay for it. The tarmac wouldn't even get laid."

BAA has admitted the only way to make a new runway at Stansted viable would be to cross-subsidise it, probably by forcing airlines to move flights from Heathrow.

The airlines have vowed to take the Government to court to prevent this cross-subsidy.

"The prospect of airlines funding the development of an airport that we do not want is beyond the pale," said a spokesman for Virgin Atlantic.

Mr Cahn said that failing to build a new runway at Heathrow would send business to alternative European hubs at Charles de Gaulle in Paris and Schiphol in Amsterdam.

"The UK long-haul aviation industry would go into terminal decline. Charles de Gaulle will overtake Heath- row in the next five to six years," he said.

Digby Jones, the director- general of the Confederation of British Industry, is also throwing his weight behind the Heathrow campaign. "There should be built, as quickly as possible, a new runway at Heathrow," he said.

The CBI believes the South- east needs as many as three new runways, at Heathrow, Gatwick and, only then, Stansted.

Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
Life and Style
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Quantitative Risk Manager

Up to £80000: Saxton Leigh: My client, a large commodities broker, is looking ...

COO / Chief Operating Officer

£80 - 100k + Bonus: Guru Careers: A COO / Chief Operating Officer is needed to...

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Market Risk & Control Manager

Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments