Heathrow - Should it get an expansion?

Hello all!
I am currently writing a speech in English based on the title. I could do with some help but I would also like to hear you guys opinions?

Happy debating!


Honestly, I am split. I see that it could cause a big impact on the wildlife community. But more planes=more fun so I am not sure.


I don’t think Heathrow needs to expand the terminals themselves unless the demand is there. It seems they can handle what they have now alright but down the line when air traffic goes up they would likely need to expand. The only thing I could see them adding is about two extra runways because the amount of time planes have to hold when trying to land here (in real life) can be a nightmare sometimes. But I guess it’s good for now so…


Agreed. Until there is a noticeable demand. There is really no need for expansions.

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Well, parliament has already voted in favour of a third runway, so it’s probably coming.

It makes sense to invest in Heathrow, as it is the busiest and most practical (in my opinion) of London’s hubs. Can’t wait to see that third runway sometime soon!


Yes 100% cause aren’t they at like 96% operating capacity? An emergency at EGLL will and has made a ripple in air travel throughout Europe, and that shouldn’t have to happen. I suggest you watch the YouTube series “Britain’s Busiest Airport” I think that’s what it’s called :P


I will say no for the following reasons:

  1. The eminent domain requirement is massive. It could be in excess of 10k people would be forced to move for the expansion.
  2. The economic benefit is overstated especially considering Brexit issues are not sorted, nor will they be until 2020 at the earliest.
  3. Heathrow is probably the only large airport requiring a flight over major parts of the city as part of a take off or approach. It is in a very bad location, so perhaps it is better to just start over more east.
  4. If you spent a billion pounds on improving speed and access to Gatwick, you could deal with the perceived “market demands”.
  5. Heathrow accounts for 50% of all airline emissions in the UK. Adding to that could have a noticeable local environmental impact.
  6. More planes, more noise. More noise = More noise pollution.

I think you can probably find a lot online on this debate, given it has been going on for decades. That said, you need to consider the post-LCC era, as the dynamics of air travel have changed considerably from when this issue first emerged.

I think there is no doubt that London needs more capacity, and the environmental lobby are probably not going to get their way as air travel seems to be one of the few “red lines” for people on what they would be willing to give up in the fight against climate change.

The issue of whether that expansion should be at Heathrow comes down, I think, to a few matters that are definitely up for discussion:

  1. Pride

Heathrow is the busiest airport in Europe, and I think there is a bit of a “we won the war” attitude over keeping it that way in the face of challenges from AMS, CDG etc. The new Istanbul airport has to be thrown into that mix too for the potential it has to take the crown (given it is in the small European portion of Turkey).

  1. Hub

Again, I think there is a bit of a political ambition to have a hub on a par with AMS, FRA and CDG. Interestingly, BA is less fussed about this. Their lock on LHR, and the slots they gained from the BD acquisition, gives them a solid position in Europe’s premium market that they don’t want to see diluted. IAG’s strategy of using MAD and DUB for some markets and lower-yield traffic means slot pressures at LHR are less of an issue.

  1. Resilience

LHR, and indeed most of London’s airports, are so congested that weather and other problems have an unusually high impact, and I think this can be a real dent to national pride but also possibly hurts LHR’s reputation for connections. However, unless there were restrictions put in place to limit the use of any additional runways built to provide a contingency, we would probably have an M25 situation - expand capacity, and you will soon be full again. I doubt the economics of a new runway work unless you max it out.

  1. UK Connections

Largely for political reasons, the possibility of increased UK domestic routes from LHR is often tabled as a means of trying to reduce opposition to LHR investment from the regions. However, if HS2 is fully realised then this becomes far less of a going concern, and UK regional airports are well served by the likes of KL and EK to provide onward connections. Would people really want to do an international-domestic connection at LHR over an international-international one at AMS or DXB? At the same time multiple LCCs have opened up direct flights from secondary airports to a plethora of destinations, reducing the need for hub connections.

  1. Brexit

Who knows?

That said, a third runway at LHR and a second at LGW seem inevitable.


I’d just like to point this out though:

Holds, Holds everywhere

(both inbound to Heathrow right now)
image image

Surely it’s more economical to get aircraft down in a timely fashion than making them burn extra fuel holding over London/Southern England for sometimes in excess of 30 minutes? A Third Runway would essentially reduce waiting times and make everything more efficient. I get what you mean about the need for further terminals, I don’t think Heathrow requires more terminals just yet. But another runway? Definitely.


Emissions wouldn’t change if locations were switched, it would be the same emissions spread out more. The 10k people would be reimbursed and sure, it’s a hassle but you don’t have to deal with the noise anymore so… Anyway, Heathrow is privately owned so I don’t think politics have nearly as much of an influence.

No, but they should try different a border force, because you always have to wait 3 hours to get through! Yes, it always happens to me when I am there.

The UK https://www.caa.co.uk/ Civil Aviation Authority stats show that Gatwick has more delays then Heathrow. The delays across the board do average out to less than 1%. I do accept the fact that a dead runway can have a huge ripple effect. That comment by @Lucas_Brien is very persuasive. Therein if UK was still in the EU they could ask the EU to contribute to the building as it is part of a European network. Alas that cannot happen now.

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I’ve always favoured Heathrow over Gatwick for another runway. I understand that there’s going to be more pollution and noise over central London, but considering how congested LHR is at the moment, it’s most definitely the obvious choice. I know Gatwick is the world’s busiest single runway airport (although that term really triggers me considering it has another that it just doesn’t use), but I honestly don’t think Gatwick needs an expansion as much as Heathrow does. I’ve never been put in a hold for more than a couple minutes when inbound to Gatwick, however I rarely get into Heathrow without a hold of at least 5-10 minutes.

It’s also worth considering that LHR is much closer to Central London than LGW, so passengers generally prefer to fly into Heathrow. My only complaint about Heathrow is that its links to the rest of the UK are absolutely terrible. The only mode of public transport anywhere to the north, south or west is a pretty slow coach; there isn’t any train links at all (which Gatwick actually has a lot of).
In all honesty, I think Gatwick is trying to be a second UK hub, which I don’t think has ever been the point of it with Easyjet based there and that. I think Gatwick needs to improve what is has already (many European flights alongside a few long-haul budget options) without another runway.


There are a lot of train links are there not? The Heathrow express?

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That’s effectively all they have. It’s brilliant for getting into London but if you live elsewhere it’s useless.


Ah it goes to Paddington which is the main terminus for the GWR, I guess for you it’s different then as you don’t live in the south west.

Even if you live in the Southwest, it’s silly that you have to go all the way into London to come straight back out again on pretty much the same track. Having said that, I believe plans have been submitted for a track heading directly out of Heathrow towards Slough and Reading (which will make getting basically everywhere much easier as Reading has links to the North as well as the South and West), although it won’t come for quite a few years.

Gatwick can’t use the second runway as it’s too close to the main one. Its only used when the main runway is out of use all other times it’s a Taxiway.

I’m with you tho as someone who grew up and lives in Bedfont which is a stone’s throw from Heathrow it’s the right choice to expand it. Its just a shame that the village of Simpson and surrounding area will be lost. But I guess it was the same for the people who lived in the village of Heathrow when that was destroyed to make way for the original airport.


I’m not familiar with this airport and have never heard of it but why not? Give it an upgrade!

I believe a expansion or build a new runway in the North of England is much better than building a third runway in Heathrow as most southern airports in south of England are much busier futhurmore Gatwick will use their 2nd runway in operation in the future (which was mainly used for emergency) and some local communities such as the residents and local/national environmentalists won’t be happy about noise and pollution