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The long-awaited decision on airport expansion could be made next Tuesday (October 18).
Campaign group Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions (CAGNE) believes transport secretary Chris Grayling will make the announcement to the House of Commons.
A source close to Westminster has told BBT they believe a decision will also be on the 18th.
The Davies Commission recommended in July last year that a third runway should be built at Heathrow. Other shortlisted options are extending the airport’s existing northern runway or building a second runway at Gatwick.
Gatwick has promised to continue plans for expansion even if Heathrow gets support and claims it’s “very unlikely” a third runway will be built at Heathrow due to legal challenges.
‘Not at any cost’
British Airways chief executive Alex Cruz has warned Heathrow that if the government gives it the nod then it should be the shareholders not passengers or airlines that foot the bill.
Speaking at the British Air Transport Association annual conference this week, Cruz said there was an “overwhelming” case for extra capacity at the west London hub, but “not at any cost”.
“If the Government does give the nod to Heathrow, then it should be the airport’s shareholders who bear responsibility for the development costs, with no impact on passenger charges,” said Cruz. “Heathrow’s investors do pretty well out of its monopoly hub status –typically receiving about three times the financial returns of an average FTSE 100 company.
“Heathrow should put its own money where its mouth is, not impose a runway tax on our customers for 10 years before it opens. And if the Government chooses to reject its own commission’s recommendation, then it must be possible they will propose a second runway at Gatwick.
“In the last couple of years, we have been growing our operation at Gatwick and in a few months we will move into new customer facilities in the south terminal. It’s a good airport. But it would be an astonishing move to favour runway expansion there over Heathrow.”
Cruz added: “There is no business case for a second runway at Gatwick. That is why the airport’s two biggest users, ourselves and EasyJet, do not support the idea. There is simply not sufficient demand, from either customers or airlines, to justify it. Experience shows that the majority of long-haul operators who start up at Gatwick either give up or switch to Heathrow at the first opportunity.
“The harsh truth is that it is hard to see how a second runway would attract a large influx of airlines – unless Heathrow was closed.”