London Heathrow Airport Shunned by World Airlines for Capacity Constraints
A British Airways passenger jet takes off from Heathrow Airport in west London April 7, 2011. REUTERS

Around 53 percent of airlines are preparing to base flights in other countries than the UK due to severe capacity constraints in Britain's only hub airport, the Heathrow.

A new report by Board of Airline Representatives in the UK (BAR UK) has indicated that if immediate government action to expand the airport is not undertaken, the country would lose out on vital investments as well as jobs.

The report will be presented at the Transport Times conference in London on 18 April, 2012. During the conference, Colin Matthews, chief executive of BAA, which runs Heathrow is expected to say that if immediate steps are not taken, flights displaced from Heathrow will automatically fly to Stansted, Gatwick or Birmingham.

"The message I hear from airlines is clear. If there's no room at Heathrow then flights will move out of the UK altogether. Instead of Britain taking the lead in forging new links with growing economies like China, we are handing economic growth to our competitors by turning away airlines who want to bring jobs, growth and trade to the UK, " Matthews is expected to say at the conference , according to the Telegraph.

Though the expansion of the Heathrow airport may not happen during this parliament, some of the members are aware about the need to increase the hub capacity. Ministers have been warned that other proposals such as building "Boris Island", a new airport on the Thames Estuary, are too long-term and would be difficult to fund, according to the Telegraph report.

The aviation sector contributes over 50 billion pounds annually to the UK economy. The Heathrow Airport, in particular, is pivotal for the UK economy.

According to BAR UK, the constraints at Heathrow, and lack of clear government policies, are affecting the businesses of airlines there, and raising issues of their future commitment to the UK.

At Heathrow, the number of unused slots is miniscule and there is very little spare capacity in respect of taxiways and aircraft parking stands.

BAR UK earlier mentioned that as air traffic movements have reached their maximum, greater passenger movement can only be achieved by the substitution of larger aircraft to replace smaller ones. The organisation further said that this will adversely affect the role of Heathrow as a key hub airport as the number of destinations served has declined.