Heathrow airport’s operator has been told it must “decisively and urgently” answer questions about its plans for delivering a third runway.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the UK’s aviation regulator, said it hard concerns about the airport’s “information flow”, and demanded answers on the costs and timeline for its expansion.
In a letter to the Department for Transport, CAA chief executive Richard Moriarty said the regulator had “concerns” over the rate of progress from Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL), requesting “high quality information about the costs of the scheme” and “ assurance that its revised timetable is realistic”.
Moriarty said airline groups were also keen to test a rival bid to build the third runway, launched by hotel tycoon Surinder Arora. “The airline community has been keen to test the credibility and feasibility of the Arora Group’s plans,” he said.
He said the CAA needed evidence that Heathrow could manage the expansion without raising its passenger charges, which, at over £20 a ticket, are already the highest in the world.
A HAL spokesperson said: “We continue to engage with all of our stakeholders on our expansion plans and look forward to presenting a detailed preferred masterplan for further public consultation next year. We remain on track to submit a planning application in 2020 and for the new runway to open in 2026.”
International Airline Group (IAG), the parent of British Airways – Heathrow’s biggest airline – backed the CAA’s calls for clarity.
“Heathrow is the most expensive hub airport in the world. It’s outrageous that it has yet to provide a detailed breakdown of the £14bn expansion costs,” IAG said in a statement. “The CAA is right to demand this as the regulator needs to ensure that passenger charges don’t rise from current levels and the UK benefits from cost effective infrastructure so that it can compete on a global scale post Brexit.”