London Mayor Boris Johnson all but conceded defeat in the battle to have a new hub airport built east of London at the weekend.
Johnson told the Financial Times he believes the Davies Commission examining the case for hub expansion in the southeast will plump for Heathrow.
The government-appointed commission, chaired by Howard Davies, is due to publish an interim report by the end of this year ahead of full recommendations in 2015.
Johnson opposes Heathrow expansion and has campaigned instead for a new airport in the Thames estuary – although recently he has also argued for expanding Stansted as an alternative.
But he told the Financial Times: “When Heathrow is on the table, nobody is going to be impressed with any other solution. That is the reality.
“That is where the establishment in this country is. It’s what the Treasury wants. It’s what the CBI [Confederation of British Industry] wants.”
Johnson claimed expanding Heathrow would prove “a tragedy” and insisted he would not “surrender” over the location of an expanded hub.
He argued adding new runways at Heathrow would mean “a massive environmental screw-up”. But he said: “It may be people think: ‘A bit of noise, who cares?’ And I’ve got to accept that. It’s very difficult democratically.”
Johnson conceded: “I’m just about out there on my own. I don’t see anybody else coming to the barricades.”
Willie Walsh, head of British Airways’ parent IAG, said last week he believes the Davies Commission will lead to “nothing”. He said: “I expect Davies to produce a fantastic report. But nothing will happen because it will be handed over to politicians.”
Walsh has previously said BA would refuse to leave Heathrow if another site were chosen for a hub.
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