Essex may ease crowds in clouds

29.10.14: MILLIONS of travellers hoping to fly in or out of London next year will be disappointed ­ and there's nothing any airline can do about it.

"Next year 188m people will want to travel through BAA's three London airports," said a spokesman for the airport authority.

"The theoretical maximum at Heathrow is 80m, with 40m each at Gatwick and Stansted. We could look at proposals to close down a three-mile stretch of the M3 to make a double runway, but nothing is likely to get us over the 170m maximum. The case for another runway really is overwhelming."

Few doubt that the government will decide on extra capacity, but where?

A fourth runway at Heathrow, like a second at Gatwick, has long been regarded as politically unfeasible. And the problem of finding a site and overcoming opposition to a new airport in the crowded southeast is a problem few politicians will relish.

"Which," said the shadow transport spokesman, Joseph Rainbow, "really only leaves us with Stansted. The people of Essex may protest, but they've lost before.

"The government will blather on about a 'people's airport', then decide that the term 'people' will have to exclude anyone living east of the M11." RG