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Emma Baker interviews travel expert Simon Calder after Boris Island airport ideas are rejected by MPs

Plans for a new island airport off the Essex coast have been rejected by MPs. Members of the Parliamentary Transport Committee say the proposals, backed by London Mayor Boris Johnson, are unworkable without public investment and would also have an impact on wildlife in the Thames estuary.

The committee also recommended at least one new runway at Heathrow and better rail links to Stansted Airport in Essex. Emma Baker spoke to travel expert Simon Calder asking him what the news means for our other airports in the East.

Mayor defends 'Boris Island' idea

Boris Johnson has defended his idea of building an island in the Thames Estuary, saying that a third runway at Heathrow would be "obsolete" by the time it was built.

He added that today's report made plain that advocates of this solution were effectively calling for a four-runway Heathrow, which he said would be "environmentally and politically undeliverable".

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MPs reject plans for Essex island airport

Artist's impression of the island airport

Plans for a new island airport off the Essex coast have been rejected by MPs.

Members of the Parliamentary Transport Committee say the proposals, backed by London Mayor Boris Johnson, are unworkable without public investment and would also have an impact on wildlife.

The committee also recommended at least one new runway at Heathrow and better rail links to Stansted Airport.

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Stansted wins new business

Stansted's owners are keen to attract new business Credit: Press Association

Stansted Airport has signed a new deal which will see Air Moldova move its UK operations from Gatwick to Essex.

Stansted has recently been taken over by Manchester Airports Group which is keen to increase the number of passengers passing through the main terminal.

Air Moldova will begin twice weekly flights to Chisinau International Airport on 29th April.

Airlines oppose Heathrow price hike

Virgin Atlantic and British Airways have both voiced opposition to the proposed increase in charges. Credit: ITN

Virgin Atlantic chief operating officer Steve Griffiths said: "We are totally committed to improving the passenger experience at Heathrow. However, we believe this can be done without a repeat of the incredibly steep price rises we have seen in airport charges in the last few years.

"Prices at Heathrow are triple the level they were 10 years ago. Clearly this is a concern for all passengers travelling through Heathrow, and all airlines operating there.

"In the current economic climate other businesses, in private and public sectors and especially airlines, are making savings and delivering on less money.

"Airports should not be exempt from that and we call upon the CAA to use its regulatory powers to ensure there is a real-terms reduction in charges applied to each passenger."

A spokesman for British Airways said: "Heathrow Airport's charges have already tripled over the past 11 years. The charges must be reduced significantly over the coming years, especially when the airport is cutting investment by around 25% from next year onwards.

"We hope the regulator (the CAA) will give a fair ruling in the months ahead, which doesn't penalise customers and airlines.

"Any investment plans between 2014 and 2019 should be targeted and efficient. We believe Heathrow can make significant savings to its inefficient cost base while still investing #3 billion in improving the overall customer experience."

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