Heathrow’s new runway will be delayed by over a year after a report by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) restricted early spending on the expansion.
The project is now expected to be completed between 2028 and late 2029, a setback of more than a year.
The CAA report concluded that achieving the previous 2026 deadline without significant additional early spending would be a “significant challenge”.
It said the airport’s £2.4bn plan would not be in the best interests of customers, restricting spending to £1.6bn.
Higher spending early on in the project could have led to higher airport charges for passengers.
“While we recognise the potential benefit to consumers of the runway opening being as early as possible, we are also mindful of the risks associated with sunk costs,” the report said.
A heathrow spokesperson said: “Whilst this is a step forward, the CAA has delayed the project timetable by at least 12 months.”
“We will now review the detail to ensure it will unlock the initial £1.5 – 2 billion of private investment over the next two years at no cost to the taxpayer.” they said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said to Londoners as Mayor: “I will lie down with you in front of those bulldozers and stop the building, stop the construction of that third runway.”
He has since dropped his opposition to the project after being absent for the Commons vote which approved it.
The expansion is opposed by climate groups and local residents who claim that Heathrow, already the UK’s biggest source of carbon emissions, would produce an extra 8-9m megatonnes of CO2 per year.
The No 3rd Runway Coalition, see the review as a sign that the CAA is losing confidence in Heathrow’s ability to fund the project.
Paul McGuinness, chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said: “Even the regulator is losing confidence in Heathrow’s ability to finance this runway.”
“Government should immediately halt this project, before taxpayers inevitably find themselves underwriting the irresponsible and vain aspirations of this foreign owned private company.” he said.