Holland-Kaye admits to Transport Committee that Heathrow runway not needed for 10 – 15 years, if things go well
Campaigners are calling for Heathrow to drop its plans for expansion, following comments made by its Chief Executive, John Holland-Kaye, to the Transport Select Committee. At the virtual hearing on Wednesday 6th May, he said a 3rd runway wouldn’t be needed for around 10 – 15 years. Holland-Kaye was asked by Lilian Greenwood MP if the crisis facing the industry caused by the Covid-19 pandemic had created a hole in the economic case for a third runway at Heathrow. He said he was no longer thinking about the 3rd runway, but that if the UK is able to reboot the economy and demand returns to the pre-pandemic levels of flying, he believes the 3rd runway may “be needed in 10-15 years’ time.” Nobody can know at present how much air travel demand will recover in the next few years. The No 3rd Runway Coalition are calling on Heathrow to drop its plans for a third runway with immediate effect. This includes appealing a Court of Appeal ruling which stated climate targets had not been taken into account when the Government prepared the Airports NPS, with plans for Heathrow expansion.
Heathrow Chief Executive questions whether third runway will be needed
6th May 2020 (No 3rd Runway Coalition)
Campaigners are calling for Heathrow to drop its plans for expansion, following comments made by its Chief Executive, John Holland-Kaye, who said on Wednesday that a third runway wouldn’t be needed for around 10 – 15 years.
At a virtual meeting of the Transport Select Committee, Heathrow’s Chief Executive, John Holland-Kaye, was asked by Lilian Greenwood MP if the crisis facing the industry caused by the Covid-19 pandemic had created a hole in the economic case for a third runway at the airport (1).
Mr. Holland-Kaye did not address the question directly but confirmed that he is
no longer thinking about the third runway. However, he did assert that if the UK is
able to reboot the economy and demand returns to the pre-pandemic levels that
he believes the 3rd runway may “be needed in 10-15 years’ time.” [In fact, though initially intended to have the runway open by 2026, the various delays – including the CAA ruling on costs, the Appeal Court judgement, and now Covid-19, it would in practice be impossible for the runway to be ready before about 2032 at the earliest. Covid will set back Heathrow’s ability to raise the money needed for the expansion. AW comment]
Responding to another question from Ruth Cadbury MP, Holland-Kaye remarkably
appeared to accept that there is uncertainty as to whether the third runway would
be needed in the future, depending on how demand recovers over the next few
years stating that “Whether that [third runway] will be needed we will have to see
how things turn out over the next few years. If we are successful in rebuilding the
UK economy, we will be needed that in 10-15 years’ time if not, then I think we’re
all in a different world” (2).
On the basis of Mr. Holland-Kaye’s answers, campaigners are calling on Heathrow
to drop its plans for a third runway with immediate effect. This includes appealing
a Court of Appeal ruling which stated climate targets has not been taken into
account when the Government prepared plans for Heathrow expansion.
Paul Beckford, Policy Director of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, commented:
“It is remarkable that even Heathrow’s Chief Executive now appears to accept
that there may be no need for his expensive and climate busting third runway.
“The economic case for a third runway has always been negligible, has been
eroded by delays even before a planning application has been submitted and
must now be non-existent given the uncertainty around future demand.
“We believe that this uncertainty combined with the climate emergency means
that Heathrow should withdraw their appeal to the Supreme Court and stop any
planning or enabling costs associated with their expansion plans.
“Communities that have lived under the cloud of expansion for decades must be
given proper reprieve from the threat of destruction and increased noise and air
1. Transport Committee, 10.52am, 6 May 2020
2. Transport Committee, 11.17am, 6 May 2020
For more information, contact:
Rob Barnstone, 07806947050, firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul Beckford, 07775593928, email@example.com
Heathrow expansion frozen, with Coronavirus crisis adding further costs, uncertainties and delay
Heathrow contractors have been told to down tools, with work put ‘on hold’ until there is further clarity on any plan for a 3rd runway. It is unlikely to make any progress during the Covid-19 recession, when the number of people flying has been cut to just tiny numbers, and the situation likely to last for at least several months. This comes after the Court of Appeal ruling (27th February) that the Airports NPS is illegal; Heathrow is trying to appeal against this, to the Supreme Court, with a decision on whether to allow the appeal by mid April. Now the delays to the runway plans, if it ever happens, have increased by perhaps another year – due to the Coronavirus. The date when it might be ready has slipped from 2026, to 2029 (due to the CAA decision) to about 2030 (due to the Appeal Court) to about 2031 (due to Coronavirus)…. so it is looking less and less likely. The airport will lose huge amounts of money, due to the virus, unless government bails it out – and that is widely NOT seen as a sensible use of government funds, when millions of people also need financial help, due to Covid-19.
Heathrow third runway may NEVER be built: CEO says £14bn expansion will not be needed for ’10 to 15 years’ and won’t happen at all unless economy recovers from Covid – as airport loses £200m a month
– Boss John Holland-Kaye says airport’s £14bn expansion plan is no longer priority
– He suggested a failure to reboot the economy could see it scrapped altogether
– Airport has spent years arguing that third runway is needed to boost economy
– But the coronavirus pandemic means future of aviation industry is uncertain
By TOM PAYNE, TRANSPORT CORRESPONDENT – DAILY MAIL
6 May 2020
The boss of London Heathrow has admitted it could be 10 to 15 years before the airport needs a third runway because of the coronavirus crisis.
John Holland-Kaye told MPs the airport’s £14billion expansion plan is no longer a priority – and suggested a failure to reboot the economy could see it scrapped altogether.
Heathrow have spent years arguing that a third runway is needed to boost the economy and keep up with an ever-increasing demand for air travel.
But the coronavirus pandemic means the future of the aviation industry is uncertain. The crisis is likely lead to a long-term fall in passenger numbers, with airlines flying reduced schedules for months or even years to come.
To add to the uncertainty, households have been warned to brace themselves for the worst recession in living memory – jeopardising the future of many big infrastructure projects, including Heathrow.
Speaking to the Commons transport committee, Mr Holland-Kaye said: ‘Whether that [third runway] will be needed we will have to see how things turn out over the next few years.
‘If we are successful in rebuilding the UK economy, we will be needing that in 10-15 years’ time – if not, then I think we’re all in a different world.’
Mr Holland-Kaye also revealed the airport was burning through £200 million a month during the economic shutdown but has the liquidity to survive for up to a year.
Heathrow’s expansion plans were already in question following a Court of Appeal ruling in February, in which judges said the project was illegal because the Government had failed to take its climate commitments into account.
The airport has been due to challenge the court’s decision at the Supreme Court. Anti-third runway campaigners are now calling for the project to be scrapped.
Paul Beckford, policy director of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said: ‘It is remarkable that even Heathrow’s chief executive now appears to accept that there may be no need for his expensive and climate busting third runway.
‘The economic case for a third runway has always been negligible, has been eroded by delays even before a planning application has been submitted and must now be non-existent given the uncertainty around future demand.
‘We believe that this uncertainty combined with the climate emergency means that Heathrow should withdraw their appeal to the Supreme Court and stop any planning or enabling costs associated with their expansion plans.
‘Communities that have lived under the cloud of expansion for decades must be given proper reprieve from the threat of destruction and increased noise and air pollution.’
Mr Holland-Kaye clarified to the committee that the airport was still pursuing its appeal against the Court of Appeal’s decision in February.
According to the judgement, the government’s policy statement on the project did not take into account its commitment to the Paris climate accords signed in 2016.
Last week the airport said all expansion plans would be pushed back by at least two years due to the disruption caused by the virus.
….. and there is more about Covid-19
How this is the latest development in 17 years of wrangling over Heathrow Airport
(From the Daily Mail)
December 2003: Labour ministers publish plans for a third runway at Heathrow, saying it is needed to keep pace with other European hubs.
January 2009: Gordon Brown green lights plans despite opposition from residents, environmental activists and many of his own MPs.
October 2009: As Opposition leader, David Cameron publicly states he will block Heathrow expansion.
May 2010: The Tory-Lib Dem Coalition emerges after the election, and rules out the west London plans.
September 2012: The idea is revived as an independent commission [Airports Commission] is set up to look at expansion of Heathrow and Gatwick, and a new airport in the Thames Estuary.
July 2015: The Airports Commission recommends Heathrow should get a new runway. [Howard Davies, its chair, was always going to come to that conclusion …]
July 2016: David Cameron resigns as PM in the wake of the EU referendum, and is replaced by Theresa May – with no decision taken on Heathrow.
July 2017: Heathrow scales back proposals for a new terminal to reduce project costs.
June 2018: Revised plans with a £14billion price tag are approved by Cabinet, with the proviso that taxpayers will not face any cost.
June 25, 2018: Greg Hands resigns from government to vote against the National Policy Statement (NPS) – effectively outline planning permission. But Boris Johnson, who previously vowed to ‘lie down in front of bulldozers’, is abroad in Afghanistan [deliberately engineered] when MPs vote in favour by a majority of 296.
December 2019: As PM, Boris Johnson does not change official policy on Heathrow but says he will ‘find a way’ of honouring his bulldozer pledge.
February 2020: The Court of Appeal rules that the NPS was unlawful as government had not considered its obligations under the Paris Climate Change Agreement. The government says it does not support appealing the case, but Heathrow says it will go to the Supreme Court.
April 2020: The airport says all expansion plans will be pushed back by at least two years due to the disruption caused by the coronavirus.
May 2020: Heathrow admits it could be 10 to 15 years before the airport needs a third runway due to the crisis