BA chief puts case for third Heathrow runway

20.11.2008   (FT)

Willie Walsh, British Airways chief executive, warned ministers yesterday that
rejection of the project to build a third runway at Heathrow would leave Britain
without a hub airport to match rivals in Europe and the Middle East for a generation.

He told an aviation conference in London that the UK economy would be held back
by inadequate air links for 30 years.

The government is due to decide whether to approve the project next month. It
has previously expressed firm support, but the aviation industry has become anxious
about the growing political opposition.

The Conservative party has changed its stance to one of outright opposition,
and the government is facing increasing resistance from within Labour ranks.

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TravelMole, 20 November, 2008     


’30 year’ impact of failing to expand Heathrow – BA boss


The boss of British Airways has warned that the UK economy will be held back
by inadequate air links for 30 years if plans for a third runway at Heathrow are


Chief executive Willie Walsh spoke out prior to an expected decision on the additional
runway next month.


He claimed that rejection of the project would leave Britain without a hub airport
to match the capacity of rivals in Europe and the Middle East for at least a generation.

Walsh said: "Since 1990, while the networks of Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Paris
Charles de Gaulle have increased, Heathrow’s has declined by 20%.

"The threat to Heathrow is not just from the Continent. In Dubai, construction
is well under way of a six-runway, 24-hour hub which its planners want to become
the key link between aviation’s biggest market, North America, and its fastest-growing,
Asia. Flights would bypass Europe completely."

Speaking to the annual conference of the Airport Operators’ Association in London,
Walsh said: "We are not good at infrastructure planning in this country. Projects
often take decades from conception to execution.


"We have already had six years of public scrutiny of a third runway – and we
are not over the starting line.

"If we received approval tomorrow, it would be another 12 years before the runway
opened. If the runway is turned down, it will be many years before the proposal
is revived – and then the whole process would have to start from scratch."

He hit out at London mayor Boris Johnson’s preferred option of a new airport
to the east of London.


"Time wasted pursuing the unfundable fantasy of a Thames Estuary hub would slow
progress further," claimed Walsh.

"The probability is that if the current opportunity to expand our national hub
is lost, the UK will suffer the consequences for at least 30 years.

"In the meantime, we would have condemned Heathrow, and the global connectivity
of the UK economy, to further relative decline."

He added: "If the financial turmoil of the last two months has taught us anything,
it is that we live in a global economy. No region of the world is economically
immune from developments in other regions.

"So it is clearer than ever that UK businesses must be provided with the kind
of high-quality worldwide connectivity that is essential for success in a globalised

"We have prevaricated about airport expansion for far too long. Meanwhile the
other major European countries have raced ahead, investing in hub airport capacity
to provide the geographic network businesses need as the global economy develops
and intensifies."

He added that the expansion of Heathrow "rightly lays down stringent environmental
safeguards to reduce or neutralise the impacts on noise, local air quality and
carbon emissions".

Walsh said: "The time to move forward is now. This is a very serious decision
of immense strategic importance for the future of the UK.

"It is not a decision to be taken for superficial or transient reasons. It is
a big decision for the long-term, and it will be a statement about those who make
1 comment:

20 November 2008, 11:24:29 GMT

Wille Walsh Heathrow Expansion

Wille Walsh and Heathrow Expansion. Wille, you could not handle the opening of
BA’s T5 let alone Heathrow’s expansion.