London Airport Wars and “Boris Island” [Part I]

On Monday this week, London Mayor Boris Johnson made the bold suggestion that the world’s busiest international airport be closed down and moved to one of three alternate locations—a popular yet equally unpopular decision that needs to be looked at in order to keep England competitive in international business and travel.

London Airport Wars and "Boris Island" [Part I]

Mayor of London in a Press Conference

“For London and the wider UK to remain competitive, we have to build an airport capable of emulating that scale of growth,” he told a press conference. “Anyone who believes there would be the space to do that at Heathrow, which already blights the lives of hundreds of thousands of Londoners, is quite simply crackers.”

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The busiest airport in the world, Heathrow runs at nearly 99% capacity at present. The mayor then laid out three options to build a “super-hub” that would close Heathrow upon its completion. Each would have four runways (Heathrow has two), and his proposal includes his long-touted proposal to build an airport on an artificial island in the River Thames, dubbed Boris Island. The other two ideas are to expand Stansted airport northeast of London, which currently has one runway, and to build an airport on the Isle of Grain in Kent on the River Thames.

New Hub Could be Open by 2029

The mayor said the new hub could open by 2029 and would cost approximately £20 billion  including the construction of road and rail links to the airport, Mr Johnson claimed. “Of all the three, I still think the Isle of Grain seems to me to combine the regeneration with the connectivity and with the ease of communication to London,” said Mr Johnson. He added that British politicians had been “sitting around like puddings for the last 40 years doing nothing” while rival countries built up their air capacity.

Clearly the artificial island location dubbed “Boris Island” is the mayor’s preferred choice of the three.

In May, lawmakers on Parliament’s Transport Committee rejected the “Boris Island” plan and instead backed the expansion of Heathrow. They cited the huge amount of money that would need to be invested and a lack of existing infrastructure.

The combative Mayor Johnson rubbished the idea when that claim was made, and yesterday added that up to 100,000 homes could be built on the present Heathrow site as well as a new university campus.

He closed his Monday press conference with, “There is a fantastic opportunity here for London and the United Kingdom.”