London Mayor Boris Johnson has backed a report calling for a brand new south east England airport.
Overseen by Transport for London deputy chairman Daniel Moylan, the report said the UK economy would suffer and London lose jobs to its European competitors unless a new hub airport was created in south east England.
Releasing the report, Mr Johnson said: “For London to retain its position as the heartbeat of global business, we need aviation links that will allow us to compete with our rivals.”
While the coalition Government has ruled out new runways in south east England, Mr Johnson has long favoured a new airport in the Thames estuary.
The report does not specify a particular site for a new airport but another Mr Johnson-commissioned report later this year will consider a range of locations for new airport capacity.
This will include options for a new airport which could be in the Thames estuary, as well as consideration of existing sites with the exception of Heathrow.
Mr Johnson’s backing for expansion not only puts him at possible loggerheads with the Government but also with those opposing airport growth, including residents’ groups and conservationists.
The report said that in terms of destinations served by worldwide international airports, Heathrow had fallen from second in 1990 to seventh in 2010, with the number of destinations that can be directly accessed from Heathrow standing at 157 compared to 224 from Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport and 235 from Frankfurt.
Mr Johnson said: “The capital’s airports are full, our runways are rammed and we risk losing jobs to Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Madrid or other European cities should we fail to act.
“No other city even approaches the volume of passengers handled at London’s airports but we need to start planning for a brand new airport that can help meet the ever-increasing demand for aviation and act as a hub, particularly to the rest of the UK.”