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The boss of Heathrow has sought to undermine rival Gatwick’s lobbying efforts for expansion while setting out the “stark choice” on offer to the prime minister when considering airport capacity in the southeast.
Chief executive John Holland-Kaye claimed that the decision in December to delay a decision on a new runway paves the way for expansion at Heathrow “as it is the only option that can deliver the government’s commitment of sustainable economic growth and opportunity for all”.
He was speaking out for the first time since the government’s response to the Airports Commission in June, which recommended expanding Heathrow.
He claimed that Heathrow had the only plan with a strong policy basis, following the support of the commission.
Holland-Kaye said David Cameron could choose between Heathrow – "the only location which all the airlines agree is the right one and want to fly from" – or one which would not reach emerging markets.
Without naming Gatwick, he said: “You could choose the option that will not get us to emerging markets, which does nothing for the regions of the UK, or for exports, that delivers a fraction of the jobs or the economic benefits, is less financially robust, does not have the support of business or unions, nor the local community, nor the airlines, nor politicians, nor the policy basis of the Airports Commission. That offers local people no respite from noise. That has only one motorway and one railway line.”
Alternatively, Heathrow’s expansion plan is designed to meet government environmental targets and has the support from the majority of local communities, Holland-Kaye claimed.
Addressing the prime minister directly, he described Heathrow as having “the only plan which you know you can get through Parliament because it has the backing of the majority of MPs across all the major parties, as well as politicians in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland”.
It is a resilient plan, which puts the airport at the heart of the UK’s transport system, served by five motorways and five railway lines, Holland-Kaye added.
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