said the need for an expanded Heathrow had become more important over the past few months because the UK will need a bigger hub airport when the economy recovers.So the recession and consequent drop in demand for air travel is a reason to expand capacity at Heathrow, even though it is unlikely that flights would be able to increase (under "mixed mode" operation) until 2012. But:
Walsh added that a 2% cut in winter flights at Heathrow this year did not undermine the case for adding a new runway to an airport that is 98.5% full throughout the year. "There is no link to the third runway. This is a short-term capacity reduction that reflects a short-term reduction in demand. A third runway is for the long term."There's a mistake in the Guardian piece by the way. The early day motion has been signed (at present) by 121 MPs, not 40. The latter number is/was the number of Labour MPs who have signed.