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Heathrow’s Expansion Gets Delayed. Again.

Expansion at London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) has been delayed by more than a year after the CAA declined the facility’s request to increase spending prior to planning consent being granted. Heathrow says it’s reviewing the details, but the CAA says it’s balancing consumer interests with timeliness.

The construction of a third runway at London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) has been delayed “by at least a year” after the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) refused to consent to the airport’s request to increase its spending prior to obtaining planning consent, The Guardian reports.

Budget Increase Request Denied

Heathrow Airport wanted to quadruple its spending on the project and had been looking to increase its budget from £650 ($845) million up to £2.4 ($3.1) billion. In a statement, the airport said that the decision made by the CAA, Britain’s aviation regulator, would delay construction until 2028 or 2029.

A spokesperson for Heathrow said, “The CAA’s announcement is an important milestone in expanding Heathrow and connecting all of Britain to global growth. It increases certainty for our local communities and for the job creation, increased trade and lower airfares that expansion delivers. We will now review the detail to ensure it will unlock the initial £1.5 ($1.95) – 2 ($2.6) billion of private investment over the next two years at no cost to the taxpayer.”

“Whilst this is a step forward, the CAA has delayed the project timetable by at least 12 months. We now expect to complete the third runway between early 2028 and late 2029,” they added.

CAA Is Balancing Timeliness With Passenger Interests

Speaking to the outlet, Paul Smith, the CAA’s group director of consumers and markets, explained that the third runway’s, “…timely delivery is required to prevent future consumers experiencing higher airfares, reduced choice and lower service quality. The sooner a new runway comes into operation, the sooner these benefits can be realized.”

“However, we have also been clear that timeliness is not the only factor that is important to consumers. Passengers cannot be expected to bear the risk of Heathrow Airport Limited spending too much in the early phases of development, should planning permission not be granted,” Smith added.

As part of its consultation, the CAA said that a controlled increase of funds to the airport – from an initial £650m ($845m) up to £1.6bn ($2bn) – would be permitted during the early phase of expansion.

The goal, explained Smith, is to facilitate expansion in a “timely” manner while offering protection for passengers and consumers.

“Our consultation reflects this balance. It will allow Heathrow’s operator to work towards delivering the new runway within an achievable timetable, and will reduce the risk of future airport passengers having to meet any undue financial burden if the project does not get planning approval,” he clarified.

[Featured Image: Heathrow]

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