What factors shaped the airports policy of the busiest aviation city in the world?
What has been the role of politicians, planners and communities?
Why has it proved so difficult to make a decision on airports and stick to it?
Inside London’s Airports Policy is the first book to provide a complete history of London’s airport policy, considering whether we can make better decisions if we learn from the lessons of history. Based on the author’s extensive industry experience, and detailed research of key documents, public records and academic papers, plus interviews with key individuals. The book sets out the studies, consultations, inquiries, commissions and debates that have directed London’s Airport policy on the troubled flight path which it has taken.
The book covers in detail a period from the mid-1970s, when the Maplin project was cancelled, to the present day. Along the way, there are periods of incremental growth with new terminals at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted; a policy vacuum of the early 1990s and the Heathrow Terminal 5 Inquiry; a long term strategy outlined in the 2003 White Paper; and the Airports Commission of 2012-2015. Case studies of airports in other countries and in the UK outside of the South East provide interesting comparisons.
Written in a straightforward style with personal insights, Inside London’s Airports Policy will be a fascinating read for all those with an interest in the development of aviation, airports and transport, including planners, engineers, civil servants, community representatives and politicians. Students and academics wishing to study examples of the decision making process will also find this an engaging read.
Paul Le Blond has over 45 years’ experience in the air and rail transport industries. Working with BAA from 1970 to 2001, Paul was involved with many public inquiries into airport development, and latterly with Heathrow Express as Rail Strategy Director. From 2001 until February 2003 he was Eurostar's Director of Strategy after which he became an independent consultant, retiring in 2015. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport.
"This complete history explains all that has hitherto been unfathomable about some of the nation’s most crucial assets: London’s airports. The author delivers an implied master class in strategic decision-making when timescales transcend the tenure of an administration, whilst nevertheless setting the direction of travel for the century ahead.
If you want to know why London’s airports are how they are, read this. If you want to consider how strategic decision-making should occur, keep this book with you at all times."
Richard Atkinson, CBE FCILT, Director of Engagement, CILT; this review was first featured in Logistics & Transport Focus, the membership magazine for The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport
"For anyone interested in the process of making policy for airport expansion and seeing how it is, or is not, implemented, this is a must-read book."
Patrick Hicks, International Air Rail Organisaton
Inside London's Airports Policy: Indecision, decision and counter-decision by Paul Le Blond is all you will ever need to grasp the story of London’s airport expansion over the past 40 years. Meticulous research is combined with well-chosen headings, summary charts and references to unravel the record of “indecision, decision and counter-decision” – a quote from John Nott to the House of Commons in 1979. The plot unravels chapter by chapter with some of the most interesting new evidence stemming from the author’s obvious rapport with key stakeholders and informed by a lifetime career in the industry. This often fills gaps in documentary records due to the 30year rule. There are also insights into the difficulty of forecasting and the complex interaction with airline competition – a key driver of airport use. Read more
Kris Beuret OBE, the Director of Social Research Associates
The author is well qualified to write this book, having worked in senior management positions at British Airports Authority (subsequently BAA plc) for some 30 years. (...) The book adeptly discusses some of the key themes that emerged during this complex and troubled path. These include the difficulties of forecasting future air traffic demand and the expected size of aircraft flown and the increasing concern over environmental issues, particularly aircraft noise and air quality. (...) Provides a well-researched history of UK airport planning and will be of interest to a broad range of readers in involved in aviation, planning, politics and community involvement.
Peter A Forbes FRAeS, Director, Alan Stratford and Associates, review featured in the Royal Aeronautical Society's Aerospace magazine