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Demand and Capacity

Source: AEF graph based on Department for Transport figures
Source: AEF graph based on Department for Transport figures


Passenger demand forecasts are often used to make an argument for additional runway capacity. Under the old Government aviation policy, the Air Transport White Paper, for example, three new runways were proposed across the UK to meet anticipated passenger demand. However, since at least 2007, Government demand forecasts have been revised down on each occasion a new forecast has been published and no new runways have in fact been built. We reviewed Government forecasts in 2011 here.

The Committee on Climate Change has recommended that in order to meet climate goals, passenger numbers should grow by no more than 60% of the 2005 level. This is much lower than recent forecasts, despite their downgrading, and suggests that measures will need to be taken to limit passenger demand. AEF work has shown that the UK already has sufficient airport capacity to allow for a 60% growth in passenger numbers.

More detailed information on our views of passenger demand forecasts is available in our comment on the Airports Commission’s consultation.