The Airports Commission has considered the UK’s long-term connectivity needs and concluded that, while the UK remains one of the best connected countries in the world, problems are starting to emerge and they are likely to get worse. It appears that the UK is approaching the limits of what can be achieved within its existing airport infrastructure. The problems are particularly visible at Heathrow. In terms of connectivity, while Heathrow continues to have a dominant position amongst European hubs on routes to North America and other established aviation markets, it has not been able to build on this and establish a similar position of strength in routes to emergingmarket economies. Moreover, the number of domestic routes to the airport is declining, restricting access from other UK regions to Heathrow’s network of international services. The Airports Commission concluded in its Interim Report published at the end of 2013, that addressing these problems will require building at least one net additional runway in London and the South East by 2030 and short-listed two potential locations for the additional runway: Gatwick and Heathrow.

The Airports Commission asked ITF/SEO to assist the Commission with reviewing any mechanisms that may help enhance the regional and long-haul connectivity outcomes in case of expansion, drawing on the current European framework within which the connectivity is provided at UK airports and commenting on any relevant European examples of how such mechanisms have been used and whether they have proved to be effective. In particular, the Airports Commission is keen on exploring to which extent there is flexibility in the slot allocation regime to be able to improve domestic connectivity and stimulate new long-haul routes.