Heathrow Dismisses Minister's Comments on Third Runway

Denies plans for expansion of airport have been scrapped

Airport says it has fully recovered from impact of the pandemic. Picture: Heathrow

May 2, 2024

Heathrow Airport has dismissed claims that it has abandoned plans to build a third runway following comments made by a Minister recently.

Transport Minister Huw Merriman told a parliamentary debate on Tuesday (30 April) that, “Heathrow Airport Holdings Ltd is now not actively pursuing expansion given its focus on recovery following the impact of the pandemic on the aviation sector. This of course had an impact on the financial contribution from the private sector.”

Mr Merriman added that government support for Heathrow expansion is on the condition that it “remains a private sector project that must meet strict criteria on air quality, noise and climate change, as well as being privately financed, affordable and in the best interests of consumers.”

Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said, “The time really has come to put an end to the ongoing blight, caused to so many residents, by Heathrow’s continued quest for a third runway. If even the Government acknowledges that it’s now very unlikely to happen, peace of mind should be restored to the vast numbers who live around the airport and beneath its flight paths – by ruling out the prospect of this extremely damaging project once and for all.”

Campaigners believe that if the project is now officially stalled, then a memorandum of understanding must be passed to not permit expansion at the airport for a certain number of years.

However, Heathrow says that the Minister’s comments have been misinterpreted and that any pause in planning was due to time being needed to recover from the impact of the pandemic, which it says it has now done. First quarter passenger numbers reached an all-time high.

A spokesperson for the company said, “We’re undertaking an internal review of how best to progress the project and we’ll provide a public update on how that may look when the time is right (we won’t be rushed into a decision given the significance of the project). “

Improved passenger numbers have helped the airport become profitable again with an adjusted surplus of £83million before tax in the first three months of the year and industry sources believe that continued increases in passenger numbers could encourage Heathrow’s new CEO Thomas Woldbye to revive the controversial plans for a third runway.


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