Skip to main content

The Practical, Cheap Alternative to New Runways - and a Fast Boost for the Economy

We can easily and very quickly solve our capacity problems at Gatwick and Heathrow in order to boost our economy. But it needs government intervention and imagination.

We don't have enough runways for jumbos or immigration processing hubs to make it easy for the people we need to attract to do business here. For example, the UK has no direct flights to and from China's largest city, Guangzhou and its 40m people, let alone all the other places hoping to do business with us. Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Paris all have many direct flights there for the Chinese to choose from. I expect the same situation exists for most other fast growing cities in India, Vietnam, South Korea etc. The UK is stuck in the past with respect to where we make it easy to travel to and from - and look where this got Greece, Spain and Portugal (once great trading nations).

If we are serious about encouraging trading relationships with the world's richest nation (China now has over $3 trillion in reserves to spend abroad - 20 times more than the US) as well as every other growing economy, we must make it easier for them to get here, and for us to go there to sell to them. We also have to make it easier for their increasing numbers of wealthy people to holiday here. It's that simple. Make it harder, and our competitors will win (like the French selling inferior fighters to India). Would you book a connecting flight when you can fly direct? It's not rocket (or jet) science.

But allocating land for new runways does not appear to be that simple. It also takes decades to happen thanks to our planning procedures (bless them and damn them) and our 'fair' tendering processes (bless them and damn them). But one thing that won't wait for all this is competition. You can bet your last euro that our chums over the channel are making new chums far faster than us. We can't rely on history to drive the future. We have to fight for it.

So how can we quickly increase the number of flights to developing nations without building more runways? Obvious answer, by reducing the number of flights we provide to nations that cost us money rather than earn it.

Instead of allowing airlines to bid for slots that don't contribute to our export drive, the government should allocate our airspace according to export potential. Stop flying direct from our main airports to places where our money goes the wrong way (like holiday destinations - unfortunately), and free up slots to places where money can roll in.

How easy was that? We can always reach our holidays in Spain and Italy via short-haul airports with shorter runways and no capacity problems, like Southampton and Cardiff. Just don't fly there from Gatwick and Heathrow. Stop thinking about them as ways for BA and their kind to make money by flying us to where we want to go, and make them exclusive gateways to our growth markets. The British people should own our major airports, not BAA shareholders.


Popular posts from this blog

Phillips screws - yes I'm angry about them too

Don't get me wrong. They're a brilliant invention to assist automation and prevent screwdrivers from slipping off screw heads - damaging furniture, paintwork and fingers in the process. Interestingly they weren't invented by Mr Phillips at all, but by a John P Thompson who sold Mr P the idea after failing to commercialise it. Mr P, on the otherhand, quickly succeeded where Mr T had failed. Incredible isn't it. You don't just need a good idea, you need a great salesman and, more importantly, perfect timing to make a success out of something new. Actually, it would seem, he did two clever things (apart from buying the rights). He gave the invention to GM to trial. No-brainer #1. After it was adopted by the great GM, instead of trying to become their sole supplier of Phillips screws, he sold licenses to every other screw manufacturer in the world. A little of a lot is worth a great deal more than a lot of a little + vulnerability (watch out Apple!). My gromble is abo

Addictions. Porn, Drugs, Alcohol and Sex. Don't prevent it, make it safer.

In 1926 New York, during Prohibition, 1,200 people were poisoned by whiskey containing small quantities of wood alcohol (methanol). Around 400 died, the rest were blinded. The methanol they drank was in the moonshine they had bought illegally. In fact it had been added by law to industrial ethanol in order to make it undrinkable. Prohibition existed to protect everyone from the 'evils of the demon drink'. However, people still wanted to enjoy alcohol. So bootleggers bought cheap industrial alcohol and attempted to distill it to remove the impurities the state had added, but the process wasn't regulated. The state was inadvertently responsible for the suffering - although it was easy for them to blame the bootleggers and to justify escalating the war. This didn't stop the bootleggers. In fact it forced them to become more violent to protect their operations, and even less cautious about their production standards. Volumes of illicit alcohol, and therefore proportionat

The Secrets of Hacker Golf

Social media is awash with professional golfers selling video training courses to help you perfect your swing, gain 50 yards on your drive and cut your handicap. They might help a few desperate souls, but the rest of us hackers already know everything we need to complete a round of golf without worrying the handicap committee or appearing on a competition winner's list. What those pros don't realise is that for us hacking golfers who very occasionally hit shots that if you hadn't seen how they were hit, end up where the pros might have put them, we already know everything we need to know - and more. Unlike pros who know how to time the perfect swing in order to caress a ball 350 yards down the centre of a fairway, we hackers need to assemble a far wider set of skills and know-how to complete 18 holes, about which pros have no comprehension, need, or desire to learn. Here are some of them: Never select your shot until after you've hit it. A variation on this is to alway