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London Mayor Plans Hub Alternatives to Heathrow

London Mayor Boris Johnson said he’ll make recommendations this year on a future airport bypassing the existing Heathrow hub to help shape a government review on capacity that he reckons is progressing too slowly.

Feasibility studies will start next month with the aim of backing one or two options in October, Daniel Moylan, Johnson’s aviation adviser, told the U.K. Parliament’s Transport Committee today. The bill for a new hub might top 70 billion pounds ($110 billion).

The British government plans to issue an interim report this year on its airport strategy, though the final verdict will not come until after the next general election in 2015 to mitigate the political fallout. Johnson’s three main options include two new facilities -- one closer to London and one further away -- as well as expansion of Stansted, northeast of the capital.

“That agenda could be accelerated and it would be possible by early next year to come up with what is the right way to go,” Johnson told legislators, adding that a new hub will need four runways and that Heathrow is unlikely to continue as it is.

Johnson said much of the bill would be paid for by private business. The public cost would be around 25 billion pounds.

The mayor’s office said today it hired engineering consulting company WS Atkins Plc, Zaha Hadid Architects and Pascall & Watson architects to help develop plans. Ernst & Young LLP will explore commercial viability, with others hired for the impact assessment.

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