Heathrow 3rd runway – for “the sovereign wealth funds which control the business & want the best possible return”
A piece in the Observer, written by an un-named author, keen on a Heathrow 3rd runway, sums up the both the undesirability of a new Heathrow runway and its impossibility. Here are a few quotes from it. Its title, on he resignation of Colin Matthews, sums up its style: “Heathrow needs a flashier pilot now.”….” But Matthews’s operational success has made him the wrong person for the next phase of the job – not least for the sovereign wealth funds who control the business and want the best possible return. And that means a third or fourth runway.” …. “The airport’s owners needs a leader who can persuade the public – particularly in west London – as well as the three main political parties, that a new runway is in Britain’s best interests. This will require showmanship.”…. “With many west Londoners in marginal constituencies unlikely to ever be won over by the case for a bigger Heathrow, ministers and opposition leaders will need persuading that the political cost is worth it. So the new Heathrow chief executive will need charm and political nous.”
Heathrow needs a flashier pilot now
Rigorous, tightly controlled and rather unexciting, the Heathrow chief executive Colin Matthews embodied in his personal qualities everything that passengers expected of Britain’s biggest airport itself. Apart from the 2010 snow fiasco that should have cost him his job, he kept Heathrow out of the headlines and got the airport working again after standards collapsed in the wake of Ferrovial’s takeover in 2006.
So Matthews will walk away this summer – having announced his departure last week – with deserved plaudits, led by the 75% of passengers who now rate the Heathrow experience as good or excellent.
But Matthews’s operational success has made him the wrong person for the next phase of the job – not least for the sovereign wealth funds who control the business and want the best possible return. And that means a third or fourth runway.
Matthews brought his mastery of detail to the expansion debate, but when combined with that metronomic rigour it gave the impression that he had been making the same argument for six years. Heathrow’s contribution has run on autopilot. The airport’s owners needs a leader who can persuade the public – particularly in west London – as well as the three main political parties, that a new runway is in Britain’s best interests. This will require showmanship.
The independent airports commission has already gone some way to giving a post-2015 government the political cover for a volte face on expansion, which will be a considerable turnaround given that the main parties are opposed to a new runway.
With many west Londoners in marginal constituencies unlikely to ever be won over by the case for a bigger Heathrow, ministers and opposition leaders will need persuading that the political cost is worth it.
So the new Heathrow chief executive will need charm and political nous, as well as the ability to keep an eye on an operation that, when it goes wrong, is instantly rebranded as one of Britain’s most derided institutions. Energy bosses need not apply.
Heathrow airport boss Colin Matthews to leave some time after June – replacement later this year
April 2, 2014
Heathrow has started the search for a new chief executive after announcing that Colin Matthews is to stand down after 6 years in charge. Colin Matthews took up the job in March 2008 after the shambolic Terminal 5 opening. As well as operating Britain’s main international hub airport, his successor faces a tough political challenge of trying to persuade the 3 main parties to back a 3rd Heathrow runway. Matthews said that “once Terminal 2 has opened later this year (due 4th June), I have decided the time is right to pass on the baton. “He said he would be 70 by 2026, when a new runway (if it ever got built) would open, and it would not be possible for him to see it through till then. The Guardian considers the most prominent internal candidate to be the development director, John Holland-Kaye, who is charged with the Terminal 2 revamp. However previous appointments have come from outside the airport group. Matthews will remain in place until his successor is in place to ensure a smooth transition.
Heathrow business case looks shaky if it had to give £100 million + per year noise compensation to households
April 3, 2014
Wandsworth Council leader Ravi Govindia says Heathrow’s business case is beginning to look very shaky. Heathrow’s owners would have to spend £100 million every year to households around the airport if it is to match Gatwick’s new noise compensation offer. In its PR efforts to win over local opposition, Gatwick has offered to pay £1,000 each to existing homes inside a 57 decibel catchment around the airport, once (if) a 2nd runway is built. This would include 4,100 homes, and the cost would be £4.1 million per year. Wandsworth calculates payments on this scale would cost Heathrow about £100 million per year. Gatwick has also offered to pay up to 2,000 qualifying local households a one-off grant of up to £3,000 towards noise insulation. If Heathrow was to match the terms of this scheme it could cost the airport a further £210 million per year. M r Govindia said the Airports Commission must give proper consideration to the “real noise impact of an airport set in the most densely populated part of the country. ….Once you weigh the real environmental costs – and those for improved surface access – against the claimed benefits of an additional runway, Heathrow’s business case begins to look very shaky.”