If the government is to consult on the option of a Thames estuary airport, and it is does not appear to have the support of either the Liberal Democrats or all ministers, then we should take the opportunity to kill off the idea of an estuary airport once and for all.
Extraordinarily, the Major of London claimed today that a new airport would pay for itself. Even if we set aside the inevitable government spending on some associated infrastructure, the supposedly keen sovereign wealth funds or other investors would, of course, require a return on their investment.
Lord Foster, no doubt highly optimistically, estimates that his plan for a new airport and supporting infrastructure would cost at least £50 billion.
Assuming even just a 5% return and pay-back over 50 years, servicing that capital investment would cost £3.5 billion a year. Spread over the seventy million passengers currently using Heathrow that would be £50 per plane ticket, before you even consider operating costs.
I will be seeing ‘Boris’ later this afternoon. I intend to ask him whether he proposes to close Heathrow, and devastate the West London economy, and, if not, how he thinks he could persuade airlines and their passengers to pay for his vanity project.