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How would you design London's airports if you could start from scratch with little limitations?

Posted: Tue Nov 26, 2019 11:48 am
by 8herveg
I've always wondered what one would design if we could rebuild London's airports from scratch. And I'm not just talking about the specific design of the terminal, but more how many airports for London, where would they be, how many terminals, how many runways. what airlines would you base at each airport etc.

Obviously London is a much more built up city now compared to when commercial aviation started back in the (40's?) and no one then obviously envisaged how big aviation was going to grow, which is why London's airports are so 'higgledy piggledy'.

So. If you could make your dreams come true, how would you do it?

London is a megacity which definitely justifies having a few airports.

I like the idea of having one main international airport, like LHR, where all flag carriers/full service airlines/alliances are operated just from this one airport. Would it be better to have a terminal per alliance and one for non-allianced airlines, a bit like LHR? This airport would need at least 4 runways. In terms of location, I like LHR's location as it's a close enough distance to London, and always easily accessible to the south, west and some parts of north of the city.....however east-west runways over a big city isn't great for the environment and people living under the flight path. Which makes me think it would be better around the South Ockenden/Grays area - which also would also be the right side of the City/Docklands financial districts, and then also no need for LCY. A fast rail service could operate straight into the City. This airport would serve 100m+ passengers per year.

Then two other main airports, just for low-cost and charter airlines. One south/south west of London and the other north/north west (based on the other airport being east). These would have two runways each and have one terminal each, also with direct rail access to London but also connected to their respective nearby rail networks.

Thoughts?

Re: How would you design London's airports if you could start from scratch with little limitations?

Posted: Tue Nov 26, 2019 11:53 am
by Arion640
Perhaps Heathrow should of been something to the north of london, avoiding the built up areas of east london on descent.

Re: How would you design London's airports if you could start from scratch with little limitations?

Posted: Tue Nov 26, 2019 11:55 am
by jarlog
Arion640 wrote:
Perhaps Heathrow should of been something to the north of london, avoiding the built up areas of east london on descent.


Should have*

Re: How would you design London's airports if you could start from scratch with little limitations?

Posted: Tue Nov 26, 2019 12:14 pm
by Exeiowa
I think it needs one airport with 6 runways, located far enough from the capital so that the residents are no t bothered by the noise, but with easy access to a motorway connection. Exeter seems like a good location.

Re: How would you design London's airports if you could start from scratch with little limitations?

Posted: Tue Nov 26, 2019 12:20 pm
by chunhimlai
Closed all other london airport except LCY

And expand LCY as mega hub like Boris island

All UK destination as well as holland/ north France/ Belgium connected by maglev train (via Irish sea bridge/ second channel tunnel)

Re: How would you design London's airports if you could start from scratch with little limitations?

Posted: Tue Nov 26, 2019 12:48 pm
by FLYERLHR
chunhimlai wrote:
Closed all other london airport except LCY

And expand LCY as mega hub like Boris island

All UK destination as well as holland/ north France/ Belgium connected by maglev train (via Irish sea bridge/ second channel tunnel)


not enough space for LCY to expand - don't know if you're being sarcastic :)

Re: How would you design London's airports if you could start from scratch with little limitations?

Posted: Tue Nov 26, 2019 1:08 pm
by ricport
One thing is for sure: I'd start by firing every transit pax security screener at LHR T5. They possess that wonderful combo of laziness and surliness.

Re: How would you design London's airports if you could start from scratch with little limitations?

Posted: Tue Nov 26, 2019 1:17 pm
by 144modeller
I can understand your enthusiasm from an aviation point of view, and as a 'spotter' I would add better facilities for viewing and taking photos. By the way, the east-west format is common throughout the UK because of the prevailing winds.
There are social and political problems to consider, one of which is illustrated by your suggestion of one site for flag carriers, and one for minor and charter carriers: it translates as one for the rich, one for the poor. And it extends to massive facilities for London and the South-east, poverty for the North. For the benefit of non-Brits, I should explain that this problem has persisted for decades, if not centuries, and has led to devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
My vote is to encourage major carriers to spread the love throughout the country.

Re: How would you design London's airports if you could start from scratch with little limitations?

Posted: Tue Nov 26, 2019 2:33 pm
by 8herveg
144modeller wrote:
I can understand your enthusiasm from an aviation point of view, and as a 'spotter' I would add better facilities for viewing and taking photos. By the way, the east-west format is common throughout the UK because of the prevailing winds.
There are social and political problems to consider, one of which is illustrated by your suggestion of one site for flag carriers, and one for minor and charter carriers: it translates as one for the rich, one for the poor. And it extends to massive facilities for London and the South-east, poverty for the North. For the benefit of non-Brits, I should explain that this problem has persisted for decades, if not centuries, and has led to devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
My vote is to encourage major carriers to spread the love throughout the country.


One for the rich and one for the poor? Not sure how you came to that conclusion? Firstly, I'm referring to just London airports here. I made no suggestion of not having flag carriers fly to/from other airports in the UK. Secondly, it's pretty much like this anyway - LHR being the airport which houses the full service airlines, and LTN and STN for the low-cost and charter operations. LGW has a bit of everything but I bet as soon as LHR opens up a 3rd runway (if/when), then a lot of the full service carriers/flights would move across to LHR. This has nothing to do with rich and poor.....this is to provide better transfers/connections between flights. Low-cost/charter operations are O&D flights predominately, whereas full service carriers are also that, but transfer passengers too.

Re: How would you design London's airports if you could start from scratch with little limitations?

Posted: Tue Nov 26, 2019 2:59 pm
by SheikhDjibouti
8herveg wrote:
I've always wondered what one would design if we could rebuild London's airports from scratch.

Are we allowed to employ a time machine, and re-visit the original plan for Heathrow dating back to the middle of WWII?

This would allow us to
a) Reposition "London Airport" so that the runways miss overflying the centre of London
b) buy up surrounding agricultural land to prevent it from being developed for housing, and to allow for future airport expansion
c) steadily develop better ground transport infrastructure as demand increased.

If you can't do that, and are faced with the situation on the ground that we have today - there simply isn't a solution.

Off the top of my head, I see a solution based on two separate (but integrated) airports, each with parallel East-West runways, and their own terminals, about 8 miles apart from each other, or 8 minutes by inter-airport shuttle (underground, secure, and totally free of charge).
The shuttle service would have two modes, airside-to-airside for interconnections, and a general service for everyone else.

Each airport could maintain it's own identity and branding, whilst being part of a bigger operation. (Think Buda-pest !)

And if there is a security incident, a fire, or a crash, only one of the airports needs to be shutdown!

Unfortunately, I can already see the Management Consultants queuing up to dismantle this by suggesting that $$$savings could be made by only having
one ATC control tower
one central fire station
one central immigration/customs facility
etc, etc, none of which is a good idea, and all of which would negate the beauty of having two separate operating entitities. :roll:

p.s. there could even be a North-South taxiway linking the two airports, preferably with high speed tugs to save aircraft taxying 8 miles under their own power. I would expect this to be a rarely used facility, that could also double as an emergency crosswind runway in extreme conditions.

p.p.s the initial outlay (ca 1945 -55) would be only in terms of building one airport until demand exceeded capacity around.... 1985? However, the land for airport #2 would be reserved, and maybe rented out for decades for agricultural purposes until required. Along with a blanket ban on any housing development under the approach paths.

Re: How would you design London's airports if you could start from scratch with little limitations?

Posted: Tue Nov 26, 2019 5:00 pm
by NorthwestB744
I would let BA have its own terminal, and the oneworld alliance have another, smaller one, near BA's, for convenience purposes. They should definitely have terminals based on alliance, cost of airline (LCC, ULCC, etc.), and carrier's country of origin (for example, AA in American. Air China in Taiwan, etc.).

Re: How would you design London's airports if you could start from scratch with little limitations?

Posted: Tue Nov 26, 2019 5:23 pm
by Stickpusher
Clean sheet? In broad terms, a large international hub northwest of London, somewhere between the M4 and M40 motorways, runways NE/SW due to prevailing winds. Still fairly convenient for London but better placed for people coming to the airport for global flights over land. High speed rail from the north and the west spurred off to the terminals.

South of London, perhaps a smidgin to the north of Gatwick, maybe even close to where the M25 now runs, another international airport for London and SE with similar Euro/N Africa/near-Eurasia connections to the other, but more frequency.

Transit pax from the intercontinental hub wouldn't necessarily need airport-to-airport transfers, and London's greater appetite for Euro travel could be catered locally.

Lose Luton and Southend, and have Stansted there for LCC, freight, emergencies, diversion capacity, military, royal & VIP) pretty much as now.

With all runways NE/SW traffic management would probably also be a great deal simpler.

Rapid airport-airport trains might be interesting, with airside security applied (lost if there are problems), bag transfers and in-train checkin for next sectors. Do everything on the move and having to transfer becomes less of a problem.

Just a whimsical first draft, given that I've not really thought about it before. Doing this now would be a nightmare! Birmingham & Bristol/Cardiff might be horrified by a large hub so close by (in time terms). East Mids and Manchester would get by, I would imagine.

The rail infrastructure would be key.

Re: How would you design London's airports if you could start from scratch with little limitations?

Posted: Tue Nov 26, 2019 6:40 pm
by Turnhouse1
Stickpusher wrote:
Clean sheet? In broad terms, a large international hub northwest of London, somewhere between the M4 and M40 motorways, runways NE/SW due to prevailing winds. Still fairly convenient for London but better placed for people coming to the airport for global flights over land. High speed rail from the north and the west spurred off to the terminals.

Right basic idea, but probably needs to be further North, somewhere around St Albans with a connection to the East and West Coast Mainlines, between the M1 and the A1.

South of London, perhaps a smidgin to the north of Gatwick, maybe even close to where the M25 now runs, another international airport for London and SE with similar Euro/N Africa/near-Eurasia connections to the other, but more frequency.

Transit pax from the intercontinental hub wouldn't necessarily need airport-to-airport transfers, and London's greater appetite for Euro travel could be catered locally.

Lose Luton and Southend, and have Stansted there for LCC, freight, emergencies, diversion capacity, military, royal & VIP) pretty much as now.

With all runways NE/SW traffic management would probably also be a great deal simpler.

Rapid airport-airport trains might be interesting, with airside security applied (lost if there are problems), bag transfers and in-train checkin for next sectors. Do everything on the move and having to transfer becomes less of a problem.

Just a whimsical first draft, given that I've not really thought about it before. Doing this now would be a nightmare! Birmingham & Bristol/Cardiff might be horrified by a large hub so close by (in time terms). East Mids and Manchester would get by, I would imagine.

The rail infrastructure would be key.


I'm not sure there will ever be enough aiport-airport demand for 'airside' transfers between them. Especially if the main airport is handling the connections and the others are more leisure focused.

Re: How would you design London's airports if you could start from scratch with little limitations?

Posted: Thu Nov 28, 2019 10:54 am
by TheWorm123
jarlog wrote:
Arion640 wrote:
Perhaps Heathrow should of been something to the north of london, avoiding the built up areas of east london on descent.


Should have*


It’s a dialect ;)

Re: How would you design London's airports if you could start from scratch with little limitations?

Posted: Thu Nov 28, 2019 2:34 pm
by FlyRow
I will build it in Essex, it needs it way more, with 8 parallel runways.

Re: How would you design London's airports if you could start from scratch with little limitations?

Posted: Tue Dec 24, 2019 3:47 am
by Rossiya747
chunhimlai wrote:
Closed all other london airport except LCY

And expand LCY as mega hub like Boris island

All UK destination as well as holland/ north France/ Belgium connected by maglev train (via Irish sea bridge/ second channel tunnel)


lol