Expansion of Heathrow Airport appears increasingly unlikely after Theresa May appointed to her Cabinet a series of opponents to a third runway. Justine Greening, the Education Secretary, has said building another runway at Heathrow is not a “smart decision” while Philip Hammond and Boris Johnson have also been opposed.
Chris Grayling, who was named Transport Secretary, has voiced few public opinions on airport expansion in recent years – though was reported to have privately backed Heathrow in 2009. He will now help oversee the decision on whether Heathrow or Gatwick is chosen for expansion after years of delay under David Cameron. Mr Cameron had said a decision on airport expansions in the South East would be taken this summer after a series of delays, but the timetable is now unclear after a change in leadership. The former prime minister and George Osborne, the former chancellor, were said to be supportive of the Heathrow bid but have now returned to the backbenches.
However critics of Heathrow have now been handed some of the most senior roles in government by Mrs May, raising questions about whether the airport will be chosen. When asked about a third Heathrow runway last year, Mr Hammond, the new Chancellor, said: “London’s role as an international air transport hub can be maintained without additional runways at Heathrow.“A second runway at Gatwick, plus enhanced transport links between the airports and better transport links to London will create a ‘virtual’ hub airport, maintaining Heathrow’s role in the local economy without expanding it.”