‘Ur­gent’ an­swers needed over new Heathrow Air­port run­way

The Malta Business Weekly - - INTERNATIONAL -

The UK's avi­a­tion reg­u­la­tor says con­cerns over the cost and sched­ule of a new Heathrow Air­port run­way must be an­swered "ur­gently and de­ci­sively".

In a let­ter to the De­part­ment for Trans­port, the Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity says it has con­cerns over Heathrow Air­port Lim­ited's "in­for­ma­tion flow".

Air­lines have tried and failed to get an­swers to their con­cerns, CAA chief ex­ec­u­tive Richard Mo­ri­arty writes.

An­swers are needed to re­tain con­fi­dence in the third run­way project, he says.

Plans to build more air­port ca­pac­ity in the south east of Eng­land have been be­set by rows, de­lays, protests and com­pet­ing plans.

But in June the Cab­i­net fi­nally ap­proved a new run­way plan for Heathrow, a move de­scribed by min­is­ters as a "his­toric mo­ment" for the UK.

The De­part­ment for Trans­port asked the Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity to mon­i­tor "how well Heathrow Air­port Lim­ited is en­gag­ing" with in­ter­ested par­ties over the £14bn-plus ex­pan­sion. In his in­terim up­date to the DfT, Mr Mo­ri­arty ac­knowl­edges the com­plex­ity of the project, but says there are two im­por­tant ar­eas of con­cern - "high qual­ity in­for­ma­tion" about costs and a re­vised timetable.

Air­lines, wor­ried about in­creased charges to use Bri­tain's big­gest air­port, have been com­plain­ing for at least 18 months about a lack of in­for­ma­tion, he says. "These con­cerns have not yet been ad­e­quately ad­dressed de­spite re­peated re­quests from the air­line com­mu­nity and the CAA," the let­ter says. Specif­i­cally, Mr Mo­ri­arty wants more in­for­ma­tion about how HAL can keep a prom­ise to hold air­port charges close to cur­rent lev­els while en­sur­ing a third run­way is com­mer­cially vi­able. He points out that un­less more de­tails are dis­closed, the CAA has le­gal pow­ers to force the air­port's own­ers to reveal in­for­ma­tion. But Heathrow in­sisted ev­ery­thing was on track for the run­way to be in use in 2026.

A 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."

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