Heathrow eyes £3bn boost for infrastructure

HEATHROW is set to unveil a £3bn expansion plan later this month which will see it invest in terminal facilities, despite continued uncertainty over the future of airport expansion.

However, Heathrow is also expected to unveil a substantial hike to the amount it charges airlines to use its facilities, up from the existing £17 per person, potentially pushing up the cost of flying.

The investment programme is scheduled for the 2014 to 2019 period, during which time the government will announce its plans on expanding runway capacity in the south east of England. This could see Heathrow lose its status as the UK’s hub airport but it intends to push on regardless with extending its terminals, adding more gates capable of hosting the Airbus A380 super jumbo and improving baggage handling facilities.

Heathrow, the company formerly known as BAA, said yesterday further details of the infrastructure investment would be unveiled at the end of this month.

On Friday Sir Howard Davies, chairman of the commission set up by the government to consider the future of Britain’s airport capacity, said he would consider a proposal by the Policy Exchange think tank to build two new runways at Heathrow, despite fierce opposition from west London residents.

Davies has been told to report his findings after the 2015 general election, ensuring the issue does not damage relations within the coalition government but also infuriating business leaders who want a swift decision.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has repeatedly campaigned against expansion of Heathrow in favour of building a new hub airport in the Thames estuary. But it is understood that he is coming around to the idea of expanding Stansted airport to meet demand on the basis that it is a more achievable aim.