Sunday 15 March 2020 3:49 pm

Heathrow Airport expansion in a 'deep freeze' after court decision and coronavirus

Heathrow Airport’s planned expansion is now in a “deep freeze”, with the aviation industry expecting the project to fall off the agenda during the coronavirus pandemic.

Airlines have been told an impending coronavirus recession will likely delay the third runway a further two years to 2030 at the earliest and could require job cuts, according to the Sunday Telegraph.

Read more: Heathrow third runway plans ruled ‘unlawful’ as legal challenge upheld

The government needs to revise its policy document on the project, after the UK’s High Court ruled last month it was “unlawful” as it didn’t take into account the country’s commitments from the Paris Climate Agreement.

The Board of Airline Representatives in the UK (BAR UK), an aviation trade body, is now expecting the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic will likely delay the government’s actions on rewriting the statement.

In an email to its members, BAR UK said: “Heathrow expansion is now in the deep freeze until the government comes forward with when, how, or if it intends to revise the [policy documents] required for Heathrow.

“Given the date for a third runway had already been pushed back to late 2028 or early 2029, then we are now looking at 2030 and beyond should the government proceed.”

Heathrow Airport believes the court ruling will not stop the project going ahead and that it was an “eminently fixable” situation.

However, contractors working on the early stages of the expansion have been told to stop working for the time being.

A spokesperson for the airport said the High Court ruling would mean there is a “delay in realising the benefits of Heathrow’s expansion” until the “government remedies an eminently fixable issue”.

Read more: Economists warn of global recession as coronavirus spreads

They added: “Failure to fix it rules out airport growth anywhere in the country and casts doubt on other infrastructure projects, including roads and housing pledges made by the Government.

“Heathrow has already taken a lead in getting the UK aviation sector to commit to a plan to get to Net Zero emissions by 2050, in line with the Paris Agreement and we are ready to work with the Government to help deliver their agenda to level up the country and deliver a Global Britain.”

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