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Farrell: Airport constellation only ‘realistic’ solution for London

Terry Farrell has again hit out at plans for a new London hub airport, insisting that a better joined-up network of existing airports was the only solution which took into account ‘realities on the ground’

Branding proposals for a mega-airport east of the capital a ‘vanity project’, transport guru Farrell said that the constellation approach suited big cities while only smaller cities could support hub airports.

Speaking at a debate organised by property networking club Movers and Shakers, the principal of Farrells said: ‘When you have a small city like Amsterdam or Frankfurt, it’s easy to have a megahub because [due to business demands], people don’t go to Amsterdam or Frankfurt to stay, they go there just for the airport.’

He added: ‘But people [stay] in London and Tokyo and larger cities. These cities tend to have constellations. You tend to have airports around them just because of the sheer size, as any one place is not going to suit the size and complexity of the cities themselves.’

However fellow speaker Ian Mulcahey, managing director of Gensler which has mooted a floating Thames Estuary airport (see below), disagreed. He said: ’Fifteen cities have closed airports located in the centre and have moved their airports further out. They have done that to relieve congestion, noise and air pollution from the city, but they have also found the land on which the old airport sat is hugely valuable.’

He added: ‘We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to put a [hub] in the Thames Estuary where we can build the best airport in the world.’

But Farrell hit back, dismissing arguments that London needed the ‘vanity project’ of a single hub airport and said: ‘Looking at super airports in China and elsewhere is not the right way to go about it. It encourages you to fall in love with the object but not to recognise the importance of the system as a whole.’

Gensler's Britannia airport proposal for the Thames Estuary

Gensler’s Britannia airport proposal for the Thames Estuary

Readers' comments (3)

  • British infrastructure developers seem to have lost touch, these projects across Asia are by far the best examples worldwide of any airport models. These comments prove nothing but that Britain cannot afford and are unable to make dynamic changes to improve business now or for the future. Heathrow is a collapsing mess that has capped it's peak and the regions ability. A new airport is obviously unaffordable and well behind schedule. lol

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  • Thank goodness for someone talking common sense again. Farrell is spot on with his analysis.

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  • Terry Farrell lacks vision in ridiculing the concept of a hub airport. He is also compromised - or should be - as he has a vested interest in supporting the opposite approach tacking extra runways on various existing airports as he is involved in promoting an extension at Gatwick. We have the opportunity to create a new hub airport on the Thames Estuary with all the obvious advantages. Take off is over water. Not landing over a heavy populated areas. It will also create the catalyst - as airports always do of development - regeneration and employment to the deprived Eastern side of London regeneration The Western side of London is already congested and over developed. Had Maplin been built in the mid 1960's that regeneration would have happened then. The long term future of Heathrow can be decided when the estuary airport is under way. I suspect it will still have a future as air travel will still be growing and it will be used far less intensively to cater for the continued growth in short haul flights. Or will we lose our nerve and lose the opportunity to solve two long term problems. Restricting the growth of Heathrow in an already over congested part of London and a new hub airport that will not only avoid flights over heavily congested densely residential areas and bring regeneration to where it is still required without creating the problems Heathrow has created for West London. Owen Luder CBE PPRIBA

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