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Dubai International’s CEO has warned Heathrow that its on-going capacity problems mean the UK’s largest airport can no longer compete on international services.
Paul Griffiths told The Financial Timesthat Heathrow is losing a lot of traffic to Dubai because it no longer has the capacity to service certain international connections.
He added that Heathrow’s capacity constraints are hurting the UK economy as more companies are basing their businesses overseas to cut down on travel costs.
His comments come as Dubai International overtook Heathrow to become the world’s busiest airport for international passengers in 2014. It dealt with around 71 million travellers last year compared to 68.1 million at Heathrow.
“Heathrow is losing a lot of traffic to Dubai because we’re able to cater for the connections that Heathrow no longer has the capacity to service...It’s highly unlikely the UK will regain number one spot for international passengers,” said Griffiths, a former head of Gatwick airport.
When airport capacity is constrained, companies “start to base headquarters overseas because of cost of travel. It strikes at the core of a country’s ability to be competitive”, he added.
The Airports Commission’s long-awaited decision on which UK airport to increase capacity at is expected this summer. The three-short listed options include adding a third runway at Heathrow, lengthening an existing runway at Heathrow and a new runway at Gatwick.
Heathrow said the loss of the airport’s status as busiest international hub adds weight to its calls for a third runway.
“Britain has benefited from being home to the world’s largest port or airport for the last 350 years . . . But lack of capacity at Heathrow means we will shortly lose our crown to Dubai,” said John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow’s chief executive.
Despite losing the number one spot to Dubai, both Heathrow and Gatwick reported record passenger numbers for 2014.
There were 73.4 million passengers passing through Heathrow while 38 million people used Gatwick.
According to figures published last week from aviation data site OAG capacity constraints hit punctuality ratings at both of the UK’s largest airports. Heathrow ranked 111th with 75.5 per cent of its flights taking off within 15 minutes of scheduled time and Gatwick achieved just 60.1 per cent.
Bristol airport achieved the highest on-time performance rating of all airports globally with a rating of 94.4 per cent.