UK firms say extra Heathrow runway must be on the table

Marion Dakers
TRANSPORT firms and business groups have urged the coalition to break a decades-long impasse on UK aviation policy and make transparent plans to address capacity issues at Britain’s airports.

Airport operator BAA, British Airways owner IAG, Virgin Atlantic and the British Chambers of Commerce are among a group lobbying for a long-term plan by the end of the parliament.

Yesterday they urged the government to consider all options – including a third runway at Heathrow, which was ruled out by the coalition agreement and is staunchly opposed by many Liberal Democrats.

Transport secretary Justine Greening will kick off a consultation on the future of UK aviation next month, in a bid to end what airline bosses yesterday called “years and years of inactivity on aviation policy which shows this government and previous ones are out of touch”.

IAG chief executive Willie Walsh said it would be “meaningless” for the industry to take part in any consultation that did not consider expanding Heathrow. “All options need to be considered... and if the government eliminates viable options from the process the consultation will become a joke.”