Industry slams ‘gutless’ government as Heathrow decision postponed

Industry slams ‘gutless’ government as Heathrow decision postponed

Industry leaders have reacted angrily to the government’s announcement it is to delay a decision over whether to build a third runway at Heathrow airport.

Transport secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, yesterday announced that the government would defer a decision until after the London Mayoral elections in May 2016, saying they needed to “undertake more work on environmental impacts, including air quality, noise and carbon”.

An independent report by Sir Howard Davies backed the idea of a third runway at Heathrow, but did not rule out alternatives.

Business leaders have questioned why the government has ignored the report’s findings and warned the decision will damage the UK economy.

Director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, John Longworth, said: “Businesses will see this as a gutless move by a government that promised a clear decision on a new runway by the end of the year.”

Abta chief executive, Mark Tanzer, said: “It is deeply disappointing that the decision on whether to go ahead with a third runway at Heathrow has been delayed yet again. The report published by the Airports Commission in July clearly recommended expansion at Heathrow.

“Whilst Abta agrees it is essential that environmental impacts must be minimised and mitigated, clear and decisive action is needed now. Failure to act will only lead to further significant damage to the UK economy.”

Chief executive of the British Air Transport Association, Nathan Stower, said: “It is extremely disappointing that the government has failed to make a decision today. The UK cannot continue to put off this difficult but vital decision while our international competitors forge ahead.”

Meanwhile IAG boss Willie Walsh has threatened to pull BA out of Heathrow, according to media reports, accusing the airport of wanting build a “gold-plated airport to fleece its customers”.

He is quoted in The Guardian as saying he would consider moving IAG’s operations to Madrid or Dublin if a cost-effective alternative to the £17.6bn runway plan was not introduced instead.

He also ruled out backing a second runway at Gatwick.

Meanwhile Gatwick Airport chief executive, Stewart Wingate, has welcomed the decision. “We are glad that the government recognises that more work on environmental impact needs to be done.

“If they want Britain to have the benefits of expansion and competition they should now look to Gatwick.”

Flybe’s chief executive, Saad Hammad, has reiterated its call on the government to open up RAF Northolt to domestic commercial flights, which the airline says would “deliver enhanced regional connectivity to London and Heathrow Airport”.


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