To build or not to build?

September 27, 2012, 8:00 AM GMT+0

To build or not to build? That has been the big question that has been asked over and over again regarding a proposed third runway at London’s Heathrow Airport.

The UK’s coalition government has stated that it is not in favour of expansion at Heathrow.

There is strong support on the Tory backbenches for a third runway, however, and on August 28 news broke that influential Tory MP Tim Yeo had suggested that Heathrow’s expansion “should go ahead”. Housing Minister Grant Shapps has also suggested that “a future Tory government could consider the option”. In addition to the discord within Tory ranks there has been enormous pressure from business leaders to expand capacity at Heathrow, arguing that it is imperative for the UK’s economic competitiveness. As things stand, Prime Minister David Cameron has referred the issue to an independent panel, but the catch is that it won’t report back for three years, which (conveniently for the PM) is after the next general election.

Unfortunately for Heathrow Airport, the impact of all of this has not been positive at all. Many of Heathrow’s brand measures have declined since the end of August. Most notably, there have been drops measured on YouGov's brand tracking tool - BrandIndex - specifically on brand Impression, Satisfaction and Buzz.

Impression for Heathrow has significantly decreased over the past few weeks. On August 27 Heathrow had an Impression score of +7.8, but by September 20 this had dropped 8 full points to land at -0.3.

Heathrow Airport had a Satisfaction score of +17.9 on August 27 and this had declined to +12.3 a few weeks later. This drop too was a significant one.

Buzz for Heathrow was the most recent measure to experience a significant downturn, dropping 17 points from late August to September 20.

It’s quite apparent that Heathrow has not benefited well from the controversy of surrounding the addition of a third runway, which is ironic considering those in favour of expansion hope it will attract more air travellers. It will be interesting to see how far the declines go for the International Airport giant as time goes on, and what the long term impact will be on its appeal for passengers who choose to fly into and out of Heathrow.

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