Friday 1 February 2008

Heathrow needs to grow

Busy, busy Heathrow

Anyone who needs convincing that London Heathrow Airport, the busiest airport by volume in Europe needs another runway to augment the critically overused existing two needs to travel through one of these days.

Many a time I have arrived at Heathrow where we have had to cross the other busy runway to get to the terminals.

Recently, our flight was delayed in Amsterdam for 90 minutes because Heathrow was too busy to receive our flight on schedule.

Fantastic controllers

Then leaving Heathrow, I took an interesting picture of airplanes queued up to take off, there were at least 5 in row from where we were.

Planes in a queue

Queued planes

In fact, there was close to 15 trying to take off on that foggy morning, the planes fed into the runway from 4 feeder lanes with each plane taking off every 2 or so minutes.

I watched 9 planes take off before it was our turn; thankfully, it was just before the mega-jumbo that would have created so much turbulence in its wake.

I have to give it to the air-traffic controllers, as for every 3 or so take-offs, one plane was allowed to land, supposedly giving time for the take-off turbulence to settle before allowing another flight in that direction.

Shoe bomber absurdity

I could not help but notice that at the security checks a majority of passengers had taken to wearing zip-up boots or slip-on shoes, of the 10 around me, only one had to do his laces, others like me just slipped off our footwear and after the checks slipped them back on again.

The absurdity of the checks that presume everyone is a potential shoe-bomber is almost laughable, but that is Heathrow where paranoia rules with a firmer hand than the natural phenomenon of the weather and what it brings.

Not hearing roosters or owls

Back to the runway, one has just about gotten tired about the protests against a new runway – everyone who chooses to live in the environs of Heathrow should know that it would not be cocks crowing at dawn or owls going too-wit too-woo at night.

The natural expectation of living close to an airport would be to hear the sounds of roaring engines of little turbo-props or humongous jet engines.

That reality should have set in for quite a while, it has been open for civil aviation since the 31st of May 1946 and it has expanded organically since then.

The UK now requires an airport that can not only handle the capacity that is being stretched today, but one that is fit for its status as a major global economic centre.

Green – my foot

Regardless of our lip-service to green accolades that contributes more carbon-dioxide through protest and talk, the facts are as obvious as anyone can see.

The only problem is that we have a democratic process that allows for necessary decisions in the interest of the nation to be bogged down in the activism of idle placard anarchists looking for a cause to justify their remaining on welfare. {An unfortunate generalisation.}

For the others who genuinely feel that a new runway blights their lives, welfare or property, much as I sympathise, living near an airport has its hazards – noise pollution being the obvious and development being the risk you take.

Giving way

A hamlet called Heath Row was destroyed to make way for the airport, the hamlet would have been located where we now have Terminal 3 – that is expansion for you, as Slipson might be the next village to give way.

Heathrow has a future and it cannot be in the cooped up place that it is now, it needs to grow.

We must agree at this point that moving to the environs of an airport is a gamble you most likely would eventually lose to the compelling national interest of development.

Ditch your placards and start shopping for a home well away from the airport and move.

Thank you very much!

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