Politicians “afraid” to take decisions on airport expansion, says Willie Walsh

16:00 04 December 2012

Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways

Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways' parent company, has said politicians are afraid to take decisions on airport expansion. File picture: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Politicians have been afraid to take tough decisions on airport expansion, the head of British Airways’ parent company told MPs today.

International Airlines Group (IAG) chief executive Willie Walsh also said that the operating costs of the so-called Boris Island Thames Estuary airport plan favoured by London Mayor Boris Johnson would be so high that no one would be able to afford to fly from there.

Speaking to the House of Commons Transport Committee Mr Walsh said that the airport expansion issue was “too difficult” for politicians and governments to handle.

He added that he was working on the principle that there will be no third runway at Heathrow Airport. Mr Walsh told the committee that he envisaged that there would still be only two runways operating at Heathrow even as late as 2050.

He said: “New runway capacity is required, but I don’t believe that capacity will be provided.”

An aviation commission headed by former Financial Services Authority chief Sir Howard Davies has been set up by the government and is due to finally report on aviation capacity in the summer of 2015.

Mr Walsh said he was “not optimistic” that the Davies Commission would lead to any expansion any time soon.

He said a similar three-year commission in the late 1960s had led to nothing, with the report “still sitting somewhere”, and went on to say: “This issue is too difficult for politicians and governments to deal with. We are positioning our business on the basis that there will be no expansion.”

Mr Walsh said the opposition to a third runway at Heathrow by the coalition government had been “wrong” and the decision to cancel the expansion at the west London airport was “a mistake”.

He went on: “I believe we will live to regret that decision.”

Asked why no airport expansion decisions had been made in the past, Mr Walsh said: “I think it is fear on the part of politicians. They are afraid to tackle tough issues.

“It (expansion) has been kicked into the long grass and I think it will be sitting there for a considerable time.”

On the Boris Island airport Mr Walsh said: “Financially, I don’t think you could make a business case to support it.”

He said the only way it could work would be to close other airports down and “force people to fly from there” and that he could not see that happening.

Mr Walsh pointed out that in 2001, Dubai in the Middle East was the 99th biggest international airport in the world. By 2011 it was fourth, he said.

He said Dubai would overtake Heathrow as the world’s biggest international airport “within two to three years”.

Latest Stories

Kim Kalkowski, owner of Cakes 'n' Treats in Camden Town, says she has been unfairly targeted by anti-fascist groups

The owner of a vegan cake shop fears for her business after anti-fascist activists launched a “mistaken” campaign to stop people visiting her store.

Read more
Dr Dhanuson Dharmasena (front) leaves Westminster Magistrates Court earlier this year.

A Whittington doctor facing the UK’s first prosecution linked to alleged female genital mutilation has denied any wrongdoing.

Read more
14:39
The vehicle on fire in Prince of Wales Road.

A bus carrying pensioners was left stranded and full of smoke after a camper van in Kentish Town caught fire.

Read more

TOP Stories

Kim Kalkowski, owner of Cakes 'n' Treats in Camden Town, says she has been unfairly targeted by anti-fascist groups

The owner of a vegan cake shop fears for her business after anti-fascist activists launched a “mistaken” campaign to stop people visiting her store.

Dr Dhanuson Dharmasena (front) leaves Westminster Magistrates Court earlier this year.

A Whittington doctor facing the UK’s first prosecution linked to alleged female genital mutilation has denied any wrongdoing.

14:39
The vehicle on fire in Prince of Wales Road.

A bus carrying pensioners was left stranded and full of smoke after a camper van in Kentish Town caught fire.

Promotions

Renault-Zoe

The Renault ZOE follows on from the introduction of the electric Fluence ZE and Twizy, but unlike the former, the Zoe was designed from the ground up as an electric vehicle.

When no simple way to find Real Ale was at hand, 4 Ale enthusiasts got together to allow anyone with a smart phone to find Real Ale no matter where they happened to be, this was the birth of the Perfect Pint app.

London24 have partnered up with The Week magazine to offer you a complimentary issue – delivered free to your door.

London Bloggers

Thursday, July 24, 2014
London comedians are preparing for Edinburgh (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

During these sultry July afternoons and endless balmy evenings the nervous musings of young comedians in London drift to dreams of triumph on the Edinburgh stage.

Thursday, July 24, 2014
Punchdrunk's The Drowned Man poduction came to an end on Sunday, July 6

If you’ve been wandering around bereft of purpose, a wet-eyed stare fixed on your blank face, then no doubt you too are as gutted as I am that The Drowned Man has finally come to an end.

Thursday, July 24, 2014
(Photo by Joern Pollex/Getty Images)

We’ve been called P.I.G.S.

Quizzes

But which London?! [Photo courtesy of Basher Eyre]

Yoou might know London like the back of your hand, but how well do you know the other Londons - and London landmarks - across the world?

Read more
The prize is glory (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

It used to be Manhattan that was famous for its majestic skyline, but now our fair city is catching up. Do you know your Shard from your Heron Tower?

Read more
Test your London musical knowledge with our album quiz (Images via Getty)

Does your music knowledge stretch from The Rolling Stones to Rudimental, Spandau Ballet to Siouxsie and the Banshees? If so then test it out with our London bands quiz:

Read more