Airport expansion

Airport expansion

In the lead into the Airports Commission’s forthcoming interim report, the new research demonstrates Londoners’ backing for airport expansion. Close to seven in ten (71%) think that airport expansion ‘definitely’ or ‘probably’ should happen, compared to around one in five (18%) who disagree (with a further 11% undecided).

The survey additionally highlights:

  • Almost two in three Londoners (62%) think that London’s economy depends on access to a comprehensive global network of flights.
  • There is also broad agreement that a hub solution is preferable to a constellation of airports approach – 47% are in favour of a hub vs. 17% who disagree. However, a significant proportion (21%) remains undecided, and 15% say they ‘don’t know’.
  • A significant proportion (41%) thinks that airport expansion cannot be achieved without compromising the UK’s Climate Change Commitments, compared to 20% who disagree.

On preferred location, the major options are in a near dead heat – 23% favour expanding Heathrow; 24% expanding one of the other London airports (i.e. Gatwick, Luton or Stansted) while a similar proportion – 22% - favour Boris Johnson’s proposition for a new hub airport in the Thames Estuary.

The results also show that preferences are linked to geography and suggest that Londoners, far from adopting a NIMBY stance, tend to support options that are closest to them. For example, East Londoners are more likely to favour a new airport in the Thames Estuary (30% vs. 18% who favour Heathrow); whereas West Londoners are more likely to favour Heathrow (32% vs. 17% who favour the Thames Estuary).

There is also a political dimension, with Conservative voters more likely to back Boris Johnson’s Thames Estuary plan (33%), compared to 13% of Labour voters and 19% of Liberal Democrat voters.

Phil Downing, Research Director, comments “the results demonstrate broad support for airport expansion and a hub solution, as well as a close call on where this should be. The fact that Londoners tend to back the solution closest to them is particularly interesting – although the data cannot tell us how views vary in specific locations within the broad classifications of east and west London”.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,066 London adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 15th - 18th November 2013. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all London adults (aged 18+).

Download the summary findings