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Monday 11 February 2013

Boris Island, Berlin, And Gove Too

While other stories dominate the national news cycle, London’s occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson has been continuing his quest for money. More specifically the tens of billions of the folding stuff that would be needed to realise his dream of a Very Wonderful new hub airport for the capital, which would perpetuate the memory of Himself Personally Now.

The Mayor makes his Airport sales pitch

So Bozza has enlisted the support of architect Zaha Hadid – who is paying for her time is not told – and an unspecified number of consultants to work up a sales pitch for a new airport at a reported cost of £80 billion (presumably, at that price, including all road and rail links) so he can pile off to the Middle East and make his pitch to the Arab states, with collecting tin at the ready.

This is despite a report already denouncing the idea known as Boris Island as “not commercially viable” (the Evening Standard, aka London Daily Bozza, preferred “would be a risk to investors), so Bozza has let it be known that in the event of his island dream being ditched, he would take Stansted as his alternate. Perhaps he has not yet been told that the airport has just been sold.

It's not dead, just nailed to the perch

Into this sea of nervous rumour has now come another superb example of water muddying from the Economist, where an uncredited piece has tried to poke fun at those beastly foreigners for getting their airports all wrong. It attempts to rubbish the “new” Berlin Airport (which isn’t actually new) by appearing to depend heavily on a hatchet job in the previous day’s edition of tabloid Bild.

When a new airport is not really a new airport

Berlin had three airports: Tempelhof, of airlift fame, which is now closed, Tegel, operational but a noise hazard and not capable of expansion, and Schönefeld, which was the East Berlin airport (and had open country to its south side). So it was a no brainer which of the three would be expended to become the city’s sole airport (it is also rail and motorway connected).

No new construction at the airport station in 2008

The Economist talks as if the renamed Berlin Brandenburg International was a new airport: it isn’t, it’s an expansion of Schönefeld, even re-using the existing runway. It recycles the Bild capacity scare (rebutted the same day), asserts the new terminal construction began in 2006 (nowt there two years after that when I visited) and whines at a €5 billion price tag (how much is Bozza looking to raise?).

Look whose advisor is intervening

So who is looking to rubbish new construction airports as Bozza starts his money raising rounds? Well, enthusiastically promoting the Economist article today has been Tim Leunig, persona non grata in Liverpool following his suggestion that everyone there should move to the south east, and now an advisor at the Department for Education (prop. Michael “Oiky” Gove).

Gove and Bozza both fancy themselves for the top job. You figure it out.


DBC said...

The rebuilt Berlin airport if running very late. Due to open May 2012, it looks as though it now won't open until 2014.

Tim Fenton said...

Whatever the timescale, it is a rebuilt airport and not a new one - Leunig was suggesting it was new build (his Tweet is in the post).

DBC said...

Point taken!

Unknown said...

Leunig's arguably a pro-Heathrow expansion person, proposing building a four-runway airport on the current site or a bit west, although he doesn't say where he'll put the currently-present water reservoirs (Liverpool?).

Boris's biggest issue is that the most virulent pro-Heathrow expansion people are the hard right/libertarian/free market Tories, particularly around George Osborne.

Gove lives in Kensington, incidentally, the fiefdom of Daniel Moylan, the serial promote of bad transport ideas who's behind quite a lot of Boris's worst nonsense.