Heathrow: The truth behind the ‘facts’

Heathrow Airport proudly present their ‘facts’ for 2017.


Subtitle: The truth behind the facts


Heathrow Facts 2017 reformatted


5th February, 2018

A joint report by Slough & District Against Runway 3 and the Colnbrook Community Association. 


These questionable ‘facts’are obviously in a format designed to lure politicians and residents into thinking all is good and that we should be grateful to have it as a neighbour. The reality is rather different.


What can we glean from these facts that should encourage politicians and residents to think twice about allowing a 3rd runway at an airport, that is surrounded by housing and businesses; is suffering a major shortage of proper housing; has very low unemployment; has enormous pressure on schools and NHS services; has a motorway network chocked by Heathrow related traffic; has a rail network with a ‘full’ sign up; a minor road network chocked by Heathrow related traffic; a bus network being reduced by local authorities due to chocked roads and a dishonest neighbour that is Heathrow Airport?



A startling 30% of Heathrow passengers do not enter the UK and therefore contribute little or nothing to the UK economy. That is 23.7 million passengers or 79,000 aircraft movements pa (at 300 passengers) or 1,519 flights pw or 217 flight per day that are of no use to our economy – only aviation profits.

This is in addition to some 2.4 million empty seats per year on Heathrow flights, or the equivalent of 8,000 flights that are of no value; indeed a waste of resources.

Additionally 67% of flights are for leisure. That is 52.1 million (one million per week – passengers that could so easily be relocated to use other ‘London Airports’ such as Gatwick, Stanstead, Luton and Southend which are underutilised.


Heathow claims to be the business airport but just 33% of it passengers (25.9 million or 3,330 flights) are classified as such, and many of these will be transfer passengers.



Heathrow currently employs 76,500 people, down from 80,000 10 years ago when T5 was built, and when they promised 10,000 NEW jobs. They also promised 5,000 apprenticeships but are unable to quantify the reality of that position.

Heathrow went through a programme of cost cuts in 2017 when it split the Unite Union branch into several independent units. This led to the union agreeing pay and benefit cuts of 30% for many employees. These were to be implemented during 2017/18 and have led to strike threats and senior employees being ‘paid off’ if they were not inclined to accept the new conditions. Outsourcing, which is known to reduce pay levels, has been introduced including the highly important security sections.


Outsourcing of such a major responsibility in this day and age could be seen as a reckless abrogation of responsibilities on the part of the airport management.



Over 300 shops and lounges at Heathrow indicate that it is milking the traveler for every penny as this is an expanding profit center for airports and leads to more low wage, no fixed hours contracts; hardly a worthwhile addition to employment prospects in an area with historically low unemployment.


The next step could be a marketing campaign for ‘Westfield at Heathrow’!



Terminal 5 achieved 32.3 million passenger on 213,179 flights this year (4,100 per week or 586 per day). This averages out at just 151 passengers per flight!

Information indicates that in T5 45% of passengers are transfer, which implies that T5 was built on a lie and is actually of very little use to the UK economy.


No new jobs; no verifiable apprenticeships; no economic benefit to the UK – only to Heathrow’s mainly overseas shareholders.



This stands at 1,227 hectares – for comparison, enough land for at least 38,037 at a density of 31 addresses achieved overall in the UK during 2015/16. With high rise and proper planning this site could resolve West London’s housing and local infrastructure problems (including Schools, health, recreation etc) despite the potentials loss of jobs. This is food for thought – we are not suggesting the closure of Heathrow; just a more considerate and ‘better not bigger’ Heathrow. Expansion means the loss of present housing, whole communities, (Longford, Harmondsworth, Sipson and parts of Colnbrook) and more pressure on local and national road and rail networks.


Better not bigger’ is the message.



Last year Heathrow achieved 1.7 million tonnes of cargo movements. They like politicians and residents to consider this to be a bonus for the UK economy; it is not.

Previous statistics provided by Heathrow, although not well publicised, state that just over 50% of the cargo arrives and leaves by road on HGV’s. The above tonnage equates to some 113,000 HGV movements per annum (2180 per wweek or 312 per day) which chock the motorways and local road networks.

Heathrow are looking to double their capacity with runway 3 which could lead to 226,000 HGV’s on local roads such as the A4 Bath Road, M4, M3, M40, M25. Together with additional car and bus movements required to cater for a 30% increase in flights / passengers non of these roads is capable of supporting this level of increased vehicle movements or to comply with World Health Organisation (WHO) agreed levels of air and / or noise pollution; and there is no spare land to accommodate width expansion. The so called ‘Smart Motorway’ schemes only achieve one thing; more traffic, thereby encouraging car use. In this context it must be noted that Heathrow budgets for £800 million for ADDITIONAL car parking facilities despite claiming to be ready to encourage more rail and public transport to the airport in the event that the new 3rd runway is given planning permission.


Heathrow have not provided any information on HGV movements due to its planned 50% increase in freight traffic – 50% of which is currently by road.




Heathrow have previously made big claims that it will enable regional airports to open connecting routes with the ‘Hub’ thereby increasing their business and allowing connectivity for residents throughout the UK. This is ‘false news’.

The unpopular HS2 is specifically designed to attract rail traffic to the south east of England, ie passenger from the North and Midlands to London (Heathrow). Regional airports are being misled by Heathrow’s false promises unless Government subsidies are implemented to attract passenger to regional airports for transfer to a final destination. The notion of such subsidies is absurd; why spend £100 billion plus on a north south link only to subsidise the private aviation competition?

The largely discredited Airports Commission report concluded that regional airports could suffer as a result of Heathrow expansion. It is pleasing to note that Manchester is performing very well with the increase in direct long haul flights, and that Gatwick is on course to exceed the Commissions prediction of passenger numbers in 2030 within the next year!!

It is comforting to know that the trend in long haul flights is for direct A to B flights rather than hub based operations. The new hubs will generally be based around the Equatorial regions with maybe two or three in Europe – Heathrow does not figure in those predictions but Frankfurt, Paris and Madrid could. Only two Euoropean Hubs are forecast to be required in the future aviation landscape and Heathrow is not one of those; unless it is allowed once again to become monopolistic as it was under the old British Airports Authority (BAA).


Under this new aviation world the UK will have much more direct connectivity with nations and regions around the world, but via time saving direct flights from regional to regional airports rather than wasteful and polluting ‘regional – hub- regional’ as we have now. A win win for passengers, the environment, and local residents.




Heathrow currently serves 85 countries and 204 destinations with 85 airlines (carriers).

For clarity, out of the roughly 196 countries there are just five that have no airport.  All five of these countries are located within Europe; these countries are Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City.

Do we need Heathrow (a very expensive bit of real estate!) to be used for transfers and pleasure flights?

London currently has 6 airports (Heathrow, Gatwick, Stanstead, Luton, City, and Southend) to serve the population of London and the South East of England, the last four of which are underutilised. If the airport owners were willing to finance their own expansion plans (they say they are), we could achieve much more than a 3rd runway at Heathrow offers by eliminating taxpayers contributions to associated infrastructure costs; offer localised employment opportunities; reduce London air and noise pollution and reduce local pressure on housing, schools, and health services.


Heathrow stated it will not contribute more than £1 billion to the surface transport costs. Transport for London estimated these at around £15 BILLION – to be borne by the taxpayer. 




Currently Heathrow has 212 aircraft stands; 133 air bridges; 64 remote and 15 cargo.

How that will change if R3 ever the go’s ahead we don’t know but the 64 ‘remote’ stands (32% ex cargo) implies a lot a passengers being coached to the arrival / departure lounges. Is that acceptable for a ‘world class’ airport?


Passengers will still be bused fro aircraft to terminals




The top five destinations from Heathrow are 1. New York (JFK) 2. Dubai 3. Dublin 4. Amsterdam 5. Hong Kong.

1. New York is a link to 162 direct destinations

2. Dubai is a gateway to 54 direct destinations

3. Dublin is a gateway to almost anywhere vie IAG and its associates

4. Amsterdam is a hub to 207 direct worldwide destinations

5. Hong Kong is a destination and gateway to China and beyond


Heathrow’s airlines therefore access it’s claimed destinations vie these and other minor hubs around the world, via their Alliances and Code Sharing arrangements.


Now for what they don’t tell you…………..


1. The  number of residents in London and the South East of England that die prematurely each year due to airport related air pollution (cars, lorries, generators & power plants, aircraft etc)

2.  The number of residents in London and the South East of England that suffer sleep loss and mental illness due to Airport related noise.

3. The number of schools affected by its air and noise pollution and the detrimental health affects on their life span.

4. The 30% reduction of staff pay and benefits implemented during 2017/18.

5. The number of jobs outsourced during the year; and apparently more to follow.

6. That it has it’s own in-house ‘grass roots’ group called Back Heathrow which is little more than a secondary PR department run by a former MP (who couldn’t control his expenses!) and didn’t realise he works for Heathrow Airport.

7. That it operates a ‘divide and rule’ policy when it comes to community engagement. Groups are established to simulate engagement when in fact they are no more than talking shops to enable the airport to claim ‘Community Engagement”.


How it can justify its desire to become a “Good Neighbour” when it so poorly presents ‘facts’ as being all positive when their are so many more downsides. 



One thought on “Heathrow: The truth behind the ‘facts’

  1. Excellent summary – all such madness – you should post it to all MPs.

    Keep up the fight.!!



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