Travel agents predict problems for Heathrow expansion

Travel agents predict problems for Heathrow expansion

Travel agents remain undecided as to whether the government will meet its proposed deadline for the third runway at Heathrow.

The government has earmarked 2020 as the year the £9 billion expansion of Heathrow airport, which will also see the creation of a sixth terminal, will be completed. Some newspaper reports suggest it may be rushed through and opened as early as 2015.

The Tories, who have long opposed the scheme, have threatened to throw it out should they come to power instead backing a further extended high speed rail network and leaving agents wondering when it will be completed, if at all.

Colchester Travel managing director John Bennett said: “I think the planning process will be prolonged, we will have a change of government to the Conservatives who will put in a high speed link which is quite wanted and keep their pledge to abolish it.”

Richmond Travel in Solihull owner Roger Blizard agrees the planning process will be a problem, adding: “I don’t think it is going to be easy, I think there’s going to be a lot of argument but when the government decides to do something, it gets done at some stage and I think it’ll be complete on or before time.”

However, Journeys a la Carte managing director Margaret May believes the government will be unable to meet its own deadlines, adding: “I think it’ll be finished later, the government always stall with these sorts of things and get behind with them and I don’t think they’ll come in within the budget either.”

Not all travel agents are pessimistic about the process, Carrick Travel owner Sally Carrick said she believes the runway will open in 2015, adding: “It is a priority or it would not have been passed through in the first place. They can also use it as a job creation scheme.”

Haslemere Travel consultant Zoltan Biczo believes the work will be completed by 2020 with a minimum of fuss. He said: “They have to (complete it on schedule) otherwise they will lose the market and they have to keep up with the international needs and competition.


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