After a long-fought political row among members of Parliament, the UK government has finally voted to approve a major expansion of London’s Heathrow Airport. Plans have been laid out to add a third runway, which the Department for Transport believes will bring major economic benefits for passengers. The expansion is said to open Heathrow up to many more direct flights both to and from the UK, as well as connections to at least 40 more cities in other nations. Though construction likely will not begin until 2021, with the runway itself not entering operational status till 2025, the benefits for travel and the economy that the new airport expansion will bring are plainly visible, creating thousands of new jobs and likely attracting many more travelers to the already-busy airport. Heathrow has long been a favorite for business travel, and indeed many of those in favor of it specifically tout the positive effect on trade as a major selling point. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling welcomed the development, lauding it as a “truly momentous” decision for this reason, while those who came out against the new runway mostly cited environmental and noise concerns.
Current and former London Mayors Sadiq Khan and Boris Johnson both lambasted the decision, believing that it would poison the air around the city and create major noise pollution. However, Parliament seems well aware of the possible negative effects and has also prepared a compensation and mitigation package of 2.6 billion pounds to help those who would be affected, while offering an additional 700 million to spend on noise insulation. With many supporters at home and abroad, though, the runway’s creation seems likely to proceed in spite of these concerns—other regional airports in cities like Liverpool and Manchester are on board, looking forward to the creation of numerous new connecting flight routes, while businesses stand to benefit from the convenience as well. We invite our partners to offer their thoughts on how the expansion will affect them and their travels, and look forward to seeing what changes it will bring about in the near future.