Political Squabbling Trumps Demands for a New London Airport

Where are the projected 400 million air travelers coming to London supposed to land? Prime Minister David Cameron is caught between two politically difficult choices for how to manage the projected growth in passengers.
August 30, 2012, 6am PDT | Andrew Gorden
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Coming off the crush of Olympic-sized tourism, pressures are again upon London to continue its expansion of its transportation network, this time at its airports. One such proposition is the construction of a brand-new airport. "The most ambitious is advocated by Norman Foster, one of Britain's most celebrated architects, who has called for an integrated air and high-speed rail hub built partly on reclaimed land adjacent to the Isle of Grain, on the south side of the Thames estuary about 40 miles from central London," reports The New York Times' John F. Burns.

With costs estimated to reach $80-$100 billion and a multi-decade timeframe, the new airport is a sizable gamble. The other option, building a third runway at Heathrow Airport, was canceled by Cameron's government two days after taking office.

Yet, as Burns states, "[w]ithout the additional runway [at Heathrow Airport], or a commitment soon to a new estuary airport, experts say, Britain will eventually become an aviation backwater." That, and concerns regarding the general economy remain high in Britain. The proposed estuary airport could create as many as 100,000 jobs.

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Published on Tuesday, August 28, 2012 in The New York Times
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