Photos: London's new Britannia Airport on man-made Thames Estuary island

By David Flynn, November 13 2013

London could have a new airport built on a man-made island in the Thames estuary east of London by 2020, with high-speed rail lines to London and Europe.

London Britannia Airport, would see London's Heathrow Airport closed and converted into a community of 300,000 new houses, according to a government-backed consortium behind the proposal for the A$81 billion (£47.3bn) project.

The runway configuration would allow three or four aircraft to operate at the same time, 24 hours a day, allegedly in all weather conditions.

Britannia Airport would be "car free, with no private car access". To streamline passenger movements, check-in and arrivals terminals would be located at London's King's Cross railway station and the Ebbsfleet International railway station on the HS1/Eurostar line, with high-speed rail links to the airport.

The airport would include a dock so that goods could be shipped to and from the new London Gateway superport rather than clogging up roads.

London Britannia Airport is the second of two proposals for an airport in the Thames estuary, but unlike a rival pitch from Foster+Partners would be constructed on an artificial island instead of converting the current outcropping Isle of Grain (as shown below).

Opting to build a bespoke island allows the location to be chosen to minimise noise and be tailored for transport links says the Thames Estuary Research and Development (Testrad) consortium formed by London Mayor Boris Johnson to study the options for estuary airports.

“In many respects, this is the most ambitious of all the airport proposals, the least contentious, the easiest and the most cost effective solution,” says Ian Mulcahey, managing director of international architectural firm Gensler, which is part of the consortium.

A new airport is needed to supplement or potentially replace the congested Heathrow Airport, which is currently running at an estimated 99% capacity.

London Britannia Airport would handle over 200 million passengers per year, making it one of the world's largest airports.

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

David
David

David Flynn

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

smit0847

smit0847

30 Aug 2013

Total posts 448

Apart from the massive cost, what's the catch? It seems like a perfect idea to have a 24 hour airport that can handle 200m passengers a year (3 times the current passenger movements)?

The no-car high-speed rail accessibility also seems like a great solution.

Hugo

Hugo

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 744

Well, there's the massive cost.

And the fact that London probably doesn't really *need* an airport to handle three times the current passenger movements any time in the next few decades, making this a potential disaster on an even larger scale than... what's that unused airport at Montreal?

And the fact that this is further from town than Heathrow/Gatwick/Stansted/Luton though possibly quicker to get to due to high speed rail (but then again, why not just build high speed rail to Luton?) 

And finally, just wait 'til the local environmentalists get a hold of the idea that you want to build a giant airport on the oh-so-fragile Thames estuary which is, no doubt, home to some unique species of mud worm or something.

TheRealBabushka

TheRealBabushka

21 Apr 2012

Total posts 3034

Catch = Poor project management + Political backtracking + Environmentalist nuts jobs + blue rinse brigade from your local council

Call in your Japanese and Singaporeans to deliver the project and just watch it happen.

Skipp

Skipp

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Aug 2012

Total posts 126

Meanwhile back in Australia, it is envisaged that by the same year (2020):

 

  • Brisbane Airport shall finally complete a second runway. A runway that should have been in existance since 2010;
  • The decision for the location of Sydney’s second airport may be finalised and work actually commenced!

It’s truly amazing to see how other developed (and developing) nations are able to create large infrastructure projects, without needing to spend years and years (in some cases decades) in just contemplation and discussions. In Australia, there always seems to be far to much talking and deliberation about infrastructure, before ACTION is finally taken. When ACTION and infrastructure work completed, it is almost time to upgrade again….

(My Tuesday morning rant…I need to get some good coffee in me, I think.)

A fridge magnet I have say's it all:

"After all is said and done...more is always said, than done".

Serg

Serg

QFF

12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1446

London alone has 1/3 of all Australia population. Plus it is big hub that serves whole Europe on way to Americas, Asia and even Australia.

 Meanwhile in Australia we have virtually no external transit (just some Kiwis) and we have to support 3 (or even 4 if Perth counts) relatively big international airports.

 Mate, we are small nation sitting in far corner of globe (though huge one) – there are certain benefits in this situation as well as certain disadvantages.

 Cheers.

Hugo

Hugo

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 744

This airport is even more of a pipe dream than Badgery's Creek at this stage, so I wouldn't get too worked up about how quickly they do things over there compared to over here. There is absolutely no way the Brits are going to actually build this thing in six years.

Just for reference, the initial design studies for Heathrow Terminal 5 started in 1988. The architect was hired in 1989. The proposal was formally announced in 1992, and a formal planning application was submitted in 1993. A public inquiry into the proposal began in 1995, and ended in 1999 after sitting for 525 days. In 2001, the government granted permission for the terminal to be built. In 2002, they actually started construction work. And in 2008, the terminal opened. 

And that was just one terminal. And it was built on land, not water.

MartinS

MartinS

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Feb 2013

Total posts 54

Skipp, do you really think a new London airport will be built by 2020? Look how long it took for the approval process, and then construction, of Heathrow Terminal 5. The UK has a similar pace to Australia on major infrastructure.

074061

074061

Cathay Pacific - Asia Miles

25 Apr 2013

Total posts 544

Which airport will CX fly to?

David

David

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2322

Alvin, given this airport would not even be built until 2020 (if it's built at all, as it's only a proposal) I think you don't need to worry about which airport CX would use until, well, 2020...

drjl

drjl

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Sep 2011

Total posts 24

Isn't the Thames Estuary subject to occasional massive tidal / storm surges?  Could these innundate the airport, especially if the "warmist / alarmists" are to be beleived and the sea level is to rise by, depending on who you listen to, maybe even Al Gore's 10 meters?   And an airport only served by a single high speed rail link would be enormously vulnerable to aither accidental or terrorist disasters or even threats.   Certainly it is a nice idea to only have rail links but perhaps not practicable.

eminere

eminere

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1127

Wow how futuristic looking.  Does weather-proof extend to rising sea levels?

Guy Betsy

Guy Betsy

American Airlines - AAdvantage

04 Jul 2012

Total posts 15

2020? Ha.. It might be that time for the politicians to finish arguing before a 'study' takes place and whether such creatures as the (pretend) Thames Freshwater crab will survive amid all the noise planes flying in to land ! 

One of the reasons the way Heathrow looks so Third World is just that the British have no farsight in planning. 

2020 will see Singapore Changi open T5. Heathrow will still be plodding along .. as long as it doesn't rain, snow , sleet or have too many leaves blow onto their runways.. and oh ya, ADP will be raised to £180 for a long haul economy flight now.


Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Photos: London's new Britannia Airport on man-made Thames Estuary island