November 4, 2012 11:01 pm

Vote puts bigger Heathrow as first choice

Holidaymakers prefer an expansion of Heathrow as the best way to help boost Britain’s stretched airport capacity, according to a survey released over the weekend.

More than a third of the heads of world tourist companies said they preferred Heathrow, with 34 per cent voting for further expansion of the UK’s busiest airport against 20 per cent preferring a new site in the Thames estuary.

The survey, commissioned by the organisers of the World Travel Market, which opens in London on Monday, found holidaymakers also more narrowly preferred Heathrow expansion, with 28 per cent in favour compared with 25 per cent for the Estuary plan proposed by Boris Johnson, London’s mayor.

The survey came as Sir Howard Davies, who is leading an independent review into the future of Britain’s airports, urged Mr Johnson to stop politicising the debate over how the country should expand its aviation capacity.

He said his inquiry needed to focus on the issues surrounding whether and where to build the UK’s next major air hub rather than the timing and politics.

His comments came after the London mayor threatened to undermine the three-year review by complaining the process was too slow and publicly dismissing the option of a third runway at Heathrow.

Sir Howard, former Financial Services Authority chief, said he was determined to ignore the “swirling” political row over the issue and insisted that the option of expanding the UK’s largest airport will “stay on the table”.

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