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BA: Heathrow Expansion a “Lost Cause”


The CEO of British Airways’ parent company blames politicians for lack of growth momentum at London airports.

Is expansion at London Heathrow Airport (LHR) no longer plausible? One CEO is speaking out about the “lost cause” that is LHR — and he’s blaming the British Parliament for the lack of action. In comments made to The Guardian, International Airlines Group (IAG) CEO Willie Walsh publicly blamed lawmakers for the delayed expansion. IAG is the parent company of both British Airways and Iberia, which both maintain major operations at LHR.

“Historically, politicians have not been brave enough and I don’t think they will be brave enough going forward,” Walsh told The Guardian. “You need a big shift in the politics of the country.”

Walsh’s comments come nearly a month after the UK Airports Commission killed the idea of constructing another airport on the Thames estuary. Lawmakers are currently considering three other options, which include: building an additional runway at LHR; lengthening an existing runway at LHR; adding an additional runway at London Gatwick Airport (LGW).

The chief executives of LGW and Birmingham Airport (BHX) have come together to campaign for an expansion at LGW. According to New Civil Engineer, the coalition claims that expansion at LHR would reduce competition for traffic to other British airports.

“Growth at [LGW] will support demand for greater connectivity, improving value for passengers flying from the South East and supporting the continued growth of our regions,” BHX CEO Paul Kehoe told New Civil Engineer.

“[LGW] does have capacity,” Walsh told The Guardian. “You could make a case to build a second runway. The case is significantly weaker — and I don’t care what scale you want to use — than the case you can make to expand Heathrow.”

The BBC reports that a public report on the shortlisted options will take place this fall, and a final report will be published next year. Politicians have vowed to make airport expansion a priority in the upcoming parliament session.

[Photo: London Heathrow Airport]

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londonbus October 5, 2014

It is hard to see long-haul operations from an expanded Gatwick. Over time carriers have moved to Heathrow. This is about the failing of the British political system; a desire to weaken our only hub airport and marginal seats in SW London.