IAG Chief Criticises UK Government on Airport Expansion

International Airlines Group (IAG), the UK-based parent company of Iberia and British Airways, has criticised the UK government policy for increasing airport capacity in the southeast of the UK.

The company chief executive officer, Willie Walsh, said at the opening session of the Business travel Show 2013, in London, ‘My own view is that we are not going anywhere with this. British Airways has planned its business on the basis that there will be no third runway at Heathrow. In 50 years time I expect that BA will still be operating from a two-runway airport at Heathrow.

I have heard Gatwick talking about a second runway but that is assuming that airlines are willing to pay for it. I am not going to spend one penny on new runways at Stansted or Gatwick.’

Earlier a study commissioned by the London Heathrow airport owner, BAA Ltd, suggested that lack of capacity at London Heathrow Airport is affecting the UK’s economy. The report, prepared by Frontier Economics, says that the lack of capacity is currently costing the country up to GBP14bn a year in lost trade, and the loss may increase to GBP26bn a year by 2030.

London Heathrow currently operates at 99 percent capacity, with no extra capacity for new trade routes to new economies, thereby affecting the growth of the UK economy. There are around 1,532 more flights to cities in Mainland China from Paris and Frankfurt airports than from London Heathrow.

The mayor of the city of London, Boris Johnson, has appealed to the city’s businesses and people to forward their views on how the city can solve the capacity crunch at London Heathrow airport.