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Written Ministerial Statements

Written Ministerial Statements


Airport Commission

The Secretary of State for Transport (Patrick McLoughlin): On 7 September, the Government announced its intention to create an independent commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, to identify and recommend to Government options for maintaining the UK’s status as a global aviation hub. Following discussions with Sir Howard, the Government is now in a position to announce the full membership and terms of reference for this body, which will be named the Airports Commission. 

In selecting members of the Airports Commission, the Government worked with Sir Howard to identify individuals with a range of skills, backgrounds and experience. The Commission also intends to appoint a panel of expert advisors, to enhance its capability to address issues that fall outside of the direct experience of the Commissioners.

In addition to Sir Howard Davies, the full membership of the Commission includes:

  • Sir John Armitt, the former Chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority and former Chief Executive of Network Rail.

  • Professor Ricky Burdett, Professor of Urban Studies at the London School of Economics and director of the LSE Cities research centre.

  • Vivienne Cox, the former CEO and Executive Vice President of BP Alternative Energy and a former member of the BP Executive Management Team.

  • Professor Dame Julia King, Vice Chancellor of Aston University and a member of the Committee on Climate Change, with a background in the aerospace industry.

  • Geoff Muirhead CBE, the former CEO of the Manchester Airport Group.


The Commission’s terms of reference will be as follows:

The Commission will examine the scale and timing of any requirement for additional capacity to maintain the UK’s position as Europe’s most important aviation hub; and it will identify and evaluate how any need for additional capacity should be met in the short, medium and long term.

It should maintain a UK-wide perspective, taking appropriate account of the national, regional and local implications of any proposals.

It should engage openly with interested parties and members of the public, providing opportunities to submit evidence and proposals and to set out views relevant to its work.

It should seek to engage with a range of stakeholders, including with local and devolved government as well as the Opposition, to build consensus in support of its approach and recommendations.

The Commission should report no later than the end of 2013 on:

  • Its assessment of the evidence on the nature, scale and timing of the steps needed to maintain the UK’s global hub status; and

  • Its recommendation(s) for immediate actions to improve the use of existing runway capacity in the next five years – consistent with credible long term options.

The assessments and recommendations in the Commission’s interim report should be underpinned by a detailed review of the evidence in relation to the current position in the UK with regard to aviation demand and connectivity, forecasts for how these are likely to develop, and the expected future pattern of the UK’s requirements for international and domestic connectivity.

Its assessments of potential immediate actions should take into account their economic, social and environmental costs and benefits, and their operational deliverability. It should also be informed by an initial high-level assessment of the credible long-term options which merit further detailed development.

The Commission should report no later than summer 2015 on:

  • Its assessment of the options for meeting the UK’s international connectivity needs, including their economic, social and environmental impact;

  • Its recommendation(s) for the optimum approach to meeting any needs; and

  • Its recommendation(s) for ensuring that the need is met as expeditiously as practicable within the required timescale.

The Commission should base the recommendations in its final report on a detailed consideration of the case for each of the credible options. This should include the development or examination of detailed business cases and environmental assessments for each option, as well as consideration of their operational, commercial and technical viability.

As part of its final report in summer 2015, it should also provide materials, based on this detailed analysis, which will support the Government in preparing a National Policy Statement to accelerate the resolution of any future planning applications for major airports infrastructure.