UK Politics

Aviation policy in the past 50 years

The Airports Commission has published its shortlist of options for expanding capacity in the south-east of England, including expansion at Heathrow and Gatwick. But the subject has been under discussion for half a century.

1963 Stansted recommended as the location for a new London airport

1966 Government sets up interdepartmental committee to revisit case for Stansted

1967 Ministerial statement announcing decision to develop Stansted

1968 Government sets up the Roskill Commission to recommend a new London airport

1971 Roskill Commission recommends Cublington, Oxfordshire, as new airport for London

Government selects Maplin Sands, Foulness, Essex, to be London's new hub airport

1974 Maplin Sands proposal abandoned by the government

1978 Aviation White Paper identifies Heathrow capacity as "restricted"

1979 "Gatwick Agreement" between BAA and West Sussex County Council that there will be no operational second runway at the airport before 2019

1990 Government commissions the Runway Capacity in the South East Study

1997 Study concludes that expanding Heathrow "would afford the greatest benefits"

Planning permission granted for second runway at Manchester Airport

2001 Second runway at Manchester Airport completed

2002 Government publishes South East of England Regional Air Services Study, with options for new runway capacity

2003 Air Transport White Paper supports a third runway and sixth terminal at Heathrow and a second runway at Stansted

2006 Government Progress Report confirms commitment to third runway at Heathrow and a second runway at Stansted

2007 Labour government consults on expanding Heathrow

2009 Government backs a third runway decision (subject to conditions) and rules out mixed-mode operation of existing runways at Heathrow

2010 Coalition government reverses third runway decision and rules out new runways at Gatwick or Stansted

2011 Government publishes "scoping document" on a "sustainable framework for UK aviation"

2012 Government publishes draft aviation policy framework for further consultation

Independent Airports Commission established in November

2013 Commission short-lists three options:

  • adding a third runway at Heathrow
  • lengthening an existing runway at Heathrow
  • adding a new runway at Gatwick

Source: Aviation Foundation