easyJet has announced it will definitely consider starting services out of London Heathrow following the decision to build a third runway there.
Commenting on the decision, airline chief executive Carolyn McCall said the GBP20+ billion privately-funded project would ensure the United Kingdom was better connected to the rest of the world.
“With the right charging structure and the right infrastructure for our efficient model, easyJet plans to operate from Heathrow, in addition to our existing London bases, providing new routes and lower fares to customers,” she said.
With the Brexit economy placing greater emphasis on the United Kingdom’s trade relationships with other countries outside of the European Union, government says the added capacity will facilitate the launch of new long haul destinations across the globe and to growing world markets, such as Asia and South America, thus significantly boosting trade.
“Heathrow already handles more freight by value than all other UK airports combined, accounting for 31% of the UK’s non-EU trade, and its expansion will create even more opportunities for UK business to get their goods to new markets,” a government statement said.
Once the new runway is operational, London expects to realize economic benefits to passengers and the wider economy worth up to GBP61 billion over sixty years.
A more cautious statement followed from IAG International Airlines Group chief executive, Willie Walsh, who has previously warned the Group would consider leaving Heathrow, home to its British Airways (BA, London Heathrow) unit, if plans for a third runway were given the greenlight. The IAG has concerns about who will invariably foot the bill for the new track amid indications Heathrow Airport Ltd would have to increase service charges to beyond economically viable thresholds in order for it to recover its investment.
“We will be vigilant in ensuring that Heathrow does not raise charges to benefit its shareholders to the detriment of the travelling public. We believe it’s sensible that this is properly debated and we look forward to being consulted about our views,” he said.
Although the project has been given government approval, experts believe works may only begin after 2020 at least given the impending legal battles it faces. Green rights activists along with property owners and town councils in Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor, and Maidenhead, have already bandied together to form a grand coalition to legally thwart the project.
“A third runway at Heathrow isn’t a deliverable alternative so isn’t a realistic choice,” the Leader of Windsor and Maidenhead local council, Simon Dudley, said. “As the number of claimants in our judicial review group increases, so does the coalition of opposition and available financial resources to stop a third runway at Heathrow, and to protect our residents.”