BA boss slams government for stopping airport growth

Harriet Green
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Next year, Dubai International Airport will have overtaken Heathrow as the world’s busiest international airport, according to the chief executive of British Airways and Iberia.

Willie Walsh, boss of International Airlines Group, has told the World Travel & Tourism Council summit in Abu Dhabi that the UK doesn’t “have politicians who are brave enough to grasp this”, reports The National.

The truth of it is the world moves on and the UK will get left behind.

He then urged governments across Europe to “get out of the way”, adding "governments need to understand they must reduce their impact on aviation."

The change being seen now is just the start, he continued - Heathrow will now descend down the global league tables: "Instead of being the busiest airport hub, 10 years from now Heathrow will be outside the top five; 20 years from now it won't be in the top 30.”

Speaking on London’s long-term airport congestion problem, Walsh labelled it as politicised, calling it a classic example of how a government can hamstring its own aviation industry.

We are not going to see another runway at Heathrow for the pretty simple reason there are 73 constituencies in the local area and the politicians that are there are fixated on being re-elected.

None of the political parties will come out to say they want to support Heathrow - it is therefore not going to happen for political reasons.

Dubai International overtook Paris’ Charles de Gaulle to take second place as the second-busiest international airport. In Abu Dhabi, Walsh added, there isn’t a government “putting hurdles in the way”.

Whatever way you look at it, said Walsh, Heathrow will carry on being a hub airport with two runways, with government still curbing activity:

50 years from now, I fully expect British Airways to be flying from a two-runway airport at Heathrow. It is tragic.