Heathrow - yes or no?

The race for a new runway has finally been halted, as a decision has been made to expand Heathrow airport. Heathrow has been given the go ahead for a third runway; however we may not have confirmation until 2017/18. There will now be a statutory public consultation process before a final decision is made and put to MPs next year.

If all goes to plan, the planning process should be over by 2020; meaning we can expect to be waiting until at least 2025 for the runway to be put in use - if ever, considering the scale of opposition. Heathrow's plan is to build a new 3,500m runway about two miles north of the existing runways at an estimated cost of £17.6bn, to be operational by 2026. Investment in the expansion of Heathrow airport has already started - just days after the Government backed plans for a third runway.

Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said the process of pumping hundreds of millions of pounds into expanding the airport started after a couple of days. He said the investment into the British supply chain will help to "build an airport that is fair, affordable and secures the benefits of expansion for the whole of the UK."

However, the boss of British Airways' parent company has said he has no confidence in the Heathrow management to build a third runway within budget. Willie Walsh, the chief executive of IAG, said Heathrow had been premature in celebrating government approval of the project and warned that it would be "a significant challenge" for the airport to deliver a runway while keeping charges flat, as stipulated by the government.

The government said the new runway had to be "delivered without hitting passengers in the pocket", and the regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, wrote to the airport to confirm it expected Heathrow to keep the charges low.

This isn't the only bad news Heathrow has had since the decision; a recent Government study found Heathrow's third runway would not benefit British residents as much as a second runway at Gatwick. The cost-benefit analysis concluded that when benefits to overseas travellers and firms were excluded, British people and firms could gain up to £4 billion more in advantages if rival Gatwick was chosen for expansion.


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