BA chief Willie Walsh comes out against a third Heathrow runway
John Stewart writes, in a blog for HACAN, that at at conference on 30th November Willie Walsh said he did not believe a 3rd runway at Heathrow would ever be built and that British Airways was basing its future plans on that belief by buying slots from other airlines at Heathrow and expanding its operations in Madrid. This has important implications for the future of UK aviation policy, and leaves Heathrow Airport without a critical ally. Walsh said BA is planning for life without a new Heathrow runway, and it appears that BA no longer sees the runway as in its commercial interesst. He also said he was opposed to mixed-mode at Heathrow. BA’s newly-acquired Heathrow slots could in due course be used to serve the emerging markets of Asia and Africa and Madrid had good connections to South America.
by John Stewart (Chair of HACAN Clearskies)
“BA’s lack of interest in a third runway has important implications for the future of aviation policy in the UK. It leaves Heathrow Airport without a critical ally”.
HeathrowAirport, formerly known as BAA, is looking ever more isolated in its support for a third runway at Heathrow. On Friday (30th November) British Airways chief Willie Walsh told a major conference that he did not believe a third runway at Heathrow would ever be built and that his company was basing its future plans on that belief by buying slots from other airlines at Heathrow and expanding its operations in Madrid –http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/aviation/9717087/Willie-Walsh-rules-out-third-runway-at-Heathrow.html
Walsh told the conference* organized by British Airways (BA) that it is “my personal belief that a third runway will never be built” and that “we are planning for life without it.” He also said he was opposed to mixed-mode at Heathrow.
It became clear at the conference, which I attended, that British Airways no longer sees a third runway as in its commercial interest. Walsh made it clear that, since a new runway would offer a significant number of slots to other airlines, BA would be less dominant than it is with the current two runway airport. Therefore, rather than look for a third runway, he said it was in BA’s commercial interest to buy up slots from other airlines using Heathrow and develop at Madrid. The newly-acquired Heathrow slots could in due course be used to serve the emerging markets of Asia and Africa and Madrid had good connections to South America.
BA’s lack of interest in a third runway has important implications for the future of aviation policy in the UK. It leaves Heathrow Airport without a critical ally. During the 3rd runway campaign, Willie Walsh proved to be one of its most articulate supporters.
Heathrow Airport will now need to fight its corner without him at a time when it is facing more competition than ever before from other UK airports eyeing up the chance to expand. The new owners of Gatwick are intending to submit a plan for a second runway. Birmingham is lobbying for expansion. Stansted expansion has its supporters. And of course Boris is backing his island.
All the signs are there. Support for a third runway is slowly draining away.
* British Airways/Air League Environment Debate
Comments from AirportWatch members:
Willie Walsh seems to no longer be so committed to the third runway which is now not in BA’s interests. Having acquired BMI’s slots they have got quite a stranglehold on the existing airport which would be weakened by a third runway where their competitors would have 75% of the slots. He seemed to me to be going through the motions.
At the British Airways/Air League Environment Debate today, Willie Walsh made clear that BA want a third runway at Heathrow to reinforce its hub status but that the decision has already been so long delayed that economic damage has been done and a third runway now would yield less benefit. BA is still supporting a third runway but is making plans to expand elsewhere in Europe. BA is opposed to any other option believing that runways other than at Heathrow would be white elephants. In spite of maintaining support for a third runway at Heathrow Willie Walsh does not expect it to happen.
Willie Walsh rules out third runway at Heathrow
Willie Walsh has predicted a third runway will not be built at Heathrow.
2 Dec 2012
Mr Walsh, British Airways’ former chief executive, has been fiercely critical of the Government’s aviation strategy in recent months.
His remarks at a conference at BA’s headquarters in west London last week will hearten those who oppose Heathrow’s expansion.
One option for BA and IAG is to buy other airline’s slots at Heathrow, a strategy which underpinned its purchase of Bmi.
The Government has set up a commission under Sir Howard Davies, the former head of the Financial Services Authority, to examine options on how to maintain Britain’s status as a major international hub.
Willie Walsh believes third runway unlikely (PA)
All options including Heathrow’s expansion and the building of a new airport in the Thames Estuary are said to be back on the table.
The Davies Commission is due to deliver an interim report next year before presenting its final conclusions to the incoming Government after the next election.
A Heathrow spokesman said it wanted all options for expansion to be considered by the Commission.
“Each has their strengths and weaknesses,” a spokesman said.
However Mr Walsh’s remarks were welcomed by John Stewart, chairman of HACAN, a pressure group opposition Heathrow’s expansion.
“It was quite clear that Willie Walsh has ruled out a third runway at Heathrow. It leaves BAA, now known as Heathrow Airport, looking increasingly isolated in its support for a third runway.”
HACAN welcomes Willie Walsh’s recognition that a 3rd runway at Heathrow is off the agenda
June 28, 2012 HACAN has welcomed the recognition by British Airways chief Willie Walsh that a 3rd runway is off the agenda at Heathrow. Walsh also ruled out mixed-mode which he said would make the situation at the airport worse. Speaking in a debate organized by the Evening Standard in Central London last night Walsh admitted that, while he had supported a 3rd runway, he now recognized that it would not be built. He said that decisions about his business were now being made on that assumption. He cited, for example, that BA had acquired BMI in order to get more landing slots at Heathrow. HACAN applauds Willie Walsh’s honesty. When a straw poll was taken at the end of the debate a large majority of the audience voted against a 3rd runway. Click here to view full story…
Report on the Evening Standard’s Great Heathrow Debate
June 28, 2012 The debate hosted by the Evening Standard took place last night in London had an unbalanced panel, with four speakers broadly in favour of expansion, and only one against. The speakers were Alain de Botton, Willy Walsh, CBI chief policy director Katja Hall, the Mayor’s adviser Daniel Moylan with the lone “anti-expansion” voice of the panel, Tamsin Omond leading member of Climate Rush, among other things. The debate was a missed opportunity for a high level debate, not having sufficient speakers from the opposition, but it was of a higher quality than expected. Willie Walsh confirmed that he is not expecting a third runway at Heathrow, and is not planning for it. He also agreed that the presence of a new runway would not determine whether business is attracted to London. No convincing arguments on the economics of a hub airport, or of a new runway, were put forward. Click here to view full story..
… and many more articles on Heathrow and the 3rd runway issue at Heathrow Airport News