Liverpool John Lennon Airport chief executive Andrew Cornish tells YBNews that a reorganisation of the airspace above London could pave the way for new regional routes by 2018. Tony McDonough reports.
Liverpool John Lennon Airport (LJLA) could establish a hub link with Heathrow within two years – despite the London airport’s third runway not likely to be operational until 2025.
Andrew Cornish, chief executive of LJLA, told YBNews that the decision by the Government to approve the new runway paves the way to reorganise the airspace above London.
This, he says, could free up landing slots for UK regional airports such as Liverpool by 2018.
“It will likely be 2025 before the third runway is built at Heathrow but there are things we can do in the interim,” said Mr Cornish.
“Heathrow has already committed to make a £10m fund available to support routes to unserved regional airports such as Liverpool and that fund is not dependent on the runway already being built.
“At the moment the way aircraft leave and arrive at Heathrow isn’t the most efficient.
“By reorganising the airspace around Heathrow that could open up thousands of extra movements every year – and some of them could be ringfenced for regional routes.
“They could operate from the existing runways at Heathrow and that, in theory, could happen within two years.
“This is something that we will be pushing hard for.”
LJLA has had mixed fortunes with hub links in recent years. KLM’s global link via Amsterdam Schiphol was axed in 2012 when the Dutch carrier carried out a wider cull of its route network.
And last year, UK regional airline Flybe launched a hub route, also via Schiphol. It was announced this was ending earlier this year after Flybe lost its codesharing agreement (allowing passengers with connecting flights to check in just once) with KLM.
However, the Aer Lingus link, offering routes to a number of North American destinations including New York and San Francisco, has proved a hit with passengers.
And Mr Cornish is confident a global hub route via Heathrow would also prove to be a success.
He added: “Heathrow is a global hub and it is also a UK airport and people can be quite particular about that – so I think it would work.”