BAA boss to call for all airport solutions to be considered

BAA boss to call for all airport solutions to be considered

All possible solutions must be examined in any analysis of how Britain maintains a hub airport, the boss of Heathrow owner BAA will say this week.

BAA chief executive Colin Matthews will argue that a hub airport is critical to the UK because of the proven links between international connectivity and economic growth, while claiming point-to-point airports such as Stansted are no substitute, despite their unused capacity.

"An airline based at Heathrow could sell a pair of take-off and landing slots for up to £25 million, move to Stansted tomorrow and halve its landing charges as well," Matthews will say on Thursday at a seminar in London hosted by the Westminster Energy, Environment and Transportation Forum.

"The reason they don't is because Heathrow is the UK's only hub airport – it's the only place they can use to transfer passengers to keep their planes full throughout the year, not just at peak times."

The government has so far ruled out a third runway, with transport secretary Justine Greening making opposition to it a key part of the election campaign for her Putney seat.

But Matthews will argue that while the government dithers over new capacity, foreign airlines are "voting with their feet" by basing new flights outside of the UK, notably at Frankfurt, Paris's Charles de Gaulle and Amsterdam's Schiphol airports, the Daily Telegraph reports.

"Instead of Britain taking the lead in forging new links with growing economies like China, we are handing economic growth to our competitors by being forced to turn away airlines who want to bring jobs, growth and trade to the UK," he will say.

Matthews will argue that it is perverse not to include expansion of Heathrow in any credible analysis of Britain's options.

"A review of aviation policy that excludes Heathrow is like a review of rugby stadiums that excludes Twickenham," the newspaper says he will say.

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