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The boss of Heathrow today stressed the urgency of the need to expand the airport and urged the government to “get on with it’.
Chief executive John Holland-Kaye urged action as the airport saw another record month in February by handling 4.95 million passengers, an increase of 1.1% on the same month last year.
The airport has sponsored a London Chamber of Commerce trade mission to Bogota, almost exactly a year after the announcement of the only direct flight between the UK and the capital of Colombia.
Holland-Kaye said: “We were delighted to support British businesses by sponsoring the trade mission to Colombia, a year after Avianca announced its direct service from Heathrow to Bogota.
“Now British businesses are calling for direct flights to other important South American cities – Santiago, Lima, even Medellin.
“These routes can only be sustained through a hub airport, so the choice is to expand Heathrow or force British business people to transfer through Paris or Madrid, handing a competitive advantage to Britain’s European rivals.
“Heathrow expansion – staying connected – is now urgent. It’s time to get on with it.”
His call coincided with rival Gatwick offering a guarantee to peg landing charges for 30 years as the dog flight to win the right to expand intensified ahead of the Airports Commission delivering its recommendations on airport expansion in the south-east after the May general election.
Heathrow said emerging markets continued to perform strongly last month, with passenger numbers increasing 23.5% to China, 14.9% to Mexico and 10.9% to Brazil in addition to “robust performance” on North American segments where volumes increased 4.3%.
“Operating at capacity, passenger growth at Heathrow was primarily driven by larger, quieter aircraft deployed at the airport,” it said.
Seats per aircraft increased 1.8% to 205.1 while load factors remained at 69.3% and passengers per aircraft rose 1.7% to 142.1.
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