The Great Debate UK

Regulatory changes needed to end Heathrow hell


- Rupert Darwall is a guest columnist. The views expressed are his own. A London-based strategist, he is author of Reluctant Managers, a study of Whitehall performance (KPMG, 2006) –

If April is the cruellest month, then July can be awful for people using Heathrow. Business travel is still humming and the holiday season is getting into full swing.

Even with Terminal 5, Heathrow can’t take the strain. Its two runways are used at 98.5 percent capacity and there are simply not enough gates and stands. A ten-minute delay is programmed into Heathrow’s schedule. Because there’s no spare capacity, when things go wrong, the slightest change — even in the weather — can lead to aircraft being held in stacks and flights being cancelled


You’d have thought that the UK government’s review of the way Heathrow is regulated, consultation on which ended last month, would want to root out what causes Heathrow to be so congested, but you’d be wrong.