Airport rumblings

By | Category: Travel rumblings
Willie Walsh - who might be able to resolve airport expansion by switching all BA, Iberia and Aer Lingus flights out of Heathrow

Willie Walsh – who might be able to resolve airport expansion by switching all BA, Iberia and Aer Lingus flights out of Heathrow

No sooner had the government kicked into touch for six months the decision on where airport expanson would occur in the south east than the bitter arguments are starting.

The injudicious words from the British Chamber of Commerce have been followed by Willie Walsh, the ex-chief of British Airways and Aer Lingus and now the head of the holding company (IAG) that owns both airlines plus Iberia, saying that if a third runway at Heathrow goes ahead and a doubling of passenger fees occurs, Heathrow will become a white elephant. He also says IAG’s passengers will not pay – via these passenger landing fees – for the infrastructure costs in creating a third runway. Rather he would look to expand their other hubs at Dublin or Madrid and leave Heathrow.

He didn’t say anything about the British Airways hub at Gatwick. Why couldn’t all the BA, Aer Lingus and Iberia flights be based there? Why has Heathrow got to be the be-all, end all to the airline industry.

Let me put this plainly. Passengers, as airline passengers not residents, don’t give a toss as to whether Heathrow or Gatwick expands. But expansion is needed. There is capacity at Gatwick and Stansted so if BA decamped to Gatwick there might not be a need to expand Heathrow. As long as passengers can get though the grinding machine that modern airports have become quickly and easily with good rail and road links they are happy.

John Holland-Kaye, the boss of Heathrow has said that the Airports Commission “made a unanimous and unambiguous recommendation” for a third runway at Heathrow. Maybe we have both read different documents but I thought it suggested three options and that its preferred one was for a third runway at Heathrow. To my way of thinking, that isn’t quite a strong as Mr Holland-Kaye has suggested.

This rumpus is going to continue until after May 2016. I’m sick of the moans and counter moans already as are, I suggest, many passengers and readers.

So this is the last word on the affair until the official announcement is made.

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