Budget airline Flybe is pushing for an enlarged Heathrow to ensure the UK remains competitive post-Brexit.
“To effectively compete in a post-Brexit environment whilst a third runway is built in the South East, and in light of the new Heathrow plans, Flybe would strongly urge the government to give an expanded Heathrow the green light,” said Flybe’s CEO Saad Hammad.
He stopped short of endorsing Heathrow’s third runway as the correct choice for the government’s airport expansion decision, though Heathrow’s newest measures which are subject to consultation, rely on receiving permission for a third runway.
Heathrow outlined new plans last week, which featured a proposal to fast-track extra capacity within four years with an extra 25,000 new flight movements by 2021 on existing runways. These included 21 daily domestic routes and 13 long-haul destinations, with Liverpool, Dundee, Londonderry, Jersey and Norwich routes all under consideration.
This extended capacity would be ring-fenced for domestic flights and offer a £10 discount for every passenger flying from Heathrow to a UK destination until 2037, as well as bringing forward a £10m “route development fund” to 2021.
Flybe currently offers flights from London City, Gatwick, Southend and Stansted and has ambitions to extend its network to include Heathrow too. Hammad has pushed for the airport to reduce the costs for regional airline operators aiming to provide broader access for domestic UK travellers. He said any future hub airport in the capital needed to be a truly “national” asset.
The government’s decision on the much-debated third runway is expected to be announced later this month. Transport secretary Chris Grayling was vague on details during an appearance on ITV’s Peston on Sunday though, saying the outcome was due “in the not too distant future”. While the Airports Commission report last year was clear in its choice of Heathrow as the best option, Grayling said he had been “genuinely impressed by all three of the shortlisted options”.
“They’ve all been thought through very carefully, they’re all very attractive in their own ways, so we’ve got an interesting and challenging decision to take,” he said. Ultimately, the government would, he said, “take the best decision that we think is right for the country”.