Dubai Airports CEO calls for hourly flights from Dubai to London

Paul Griffiths urges countries to learn from the UAE and separate major infrastructures projects from the political domain
Dubai Airports CEO calls for hourly flights from Dubai to London
By Sarah Townsend
Wed 26 Oct 2016 12:30 PM

The planned expansion of Heathrow Airport paves the way for an hourly “shuttle” service between Dubai and London, according to Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths.

Griffiths said a third runway at Heathrow – approved by the UK government on Tuesday – would enable additional flights between the two hubs.

He said the extra capacity could even enable the two cities to launch an hourly, “bus-stop”-type service, vastly increasing Dubai’s connectivity.

Griffiths told local radio station Dubai Eye on Wednesday morning: “There are 13 flights a day between Dubai and Heathrow, and I know the market can take more. So having more availability would be fantastic.

“What I would like to see is a sort of hourly shuttle, where you can just jump on a plan to London and back on again if you want it.

“No doubt as air travel develops there will be plenty of cities across the world that will develop this hourly bus stop service, and runway capacity will enable this sort of idea.”

At present, capacity issues at Heathrow airport threaten to restrict the growth of Dubai as an aviation hub, Griffiths said.

“It is fairly simple. When you take off you have to land somewhere and if the airport at the other end does not have the capacity to accommodate you, you can’t operate a service.

“In Dubai, we have 260 destinations, which is considerably more than Heathrow because of its dearth of capacity. So I the addition of a third runway will deliver significant benefits [to both cities].”

Griffiths also criticised the length of time it has taken for the government to make a decision on where to build additional airport capacity in south-east England. And he said that the UK – and the rest of the world – had much to learn from the UAE when it comes to delivering large-scale infrastructure projects.

“This is why the UAE has a lot to show the world. For God’s sake, let us separate the long-term infrastructure plans from the political shenanigans that go on in parts of the world.

“If you make long-term infrastructure into a political football it will be used as such – and the political ping-pong of airport infrastructure is just not in the best interests of the economy.

“It’s gone on for 50 years and it should stop right now.”

Griffiths, a former managing director of Gatwick Airport, said he “declared an interest” in the case that has been pushed for another runway to be built at Gatwick, instead of Heathrow, but admitted he understood why the latter has been selected.

“Of course, if Heathrow could not deliver this project then Gatwick has a strong case…But Heathrow is at the confluence of all the major motorway networks, it’s closer to the city of London and more convenient for many more people.

“Gatwick, on the other hand, has two major problems – the quartile of the M25 [motorway it is sat next to], which is already heavily congested, and its connecting rail system, which is already saturated with the commuter network.”

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