July 13, 2024

IATA Chief, Willie Walsh, Doubts Heathrow Third Runway Will Proceed

Willie Walsh, former British Airways CEO, casts doubt on Heathrow’s third runway, citing significant challenges. Instead, he advocates for Gatwick expansion

British Airways

Photo Source: https://i.guim.co.uk/

Heathrow’s plans for a third runway face considerable challenges, according to Willie Walsh, the former CEO of British Airways. Walsh, now head of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), suggests that the expansion of Gatwick Airport may be a more viable option for the UK’s aviation growth.

Walsh highlights several hurdles for Heathrow’s expansion, including noise pollution concerns due to its location over central London. He predicts that while hubs in Istanbul, Dubai, Doha, and Riyadh are poised for growth, European airports may experience stagnation in their connectivity with other parts of the world.

“I don’t foresee a third runway being built at Heathrow due to its significant expansion challenges,” Walsh stated. “Instead, the focus could and perhaps should be on developing a second runway at Gatwick.”

Photo Source:https://www.ft.com/

Walsh also pointed out areas for improvement in Heathrow’s current operations, particularly in its security screening process. “From my global travels, I’ve observed that Heathrow’s security checks could be more customer-friendly and efficient compared to other airports,” he remarked.

These comments coincide with Sir Richard Branson’s announcement that Virgin Atlantic plans to return to Gatwick, marking the 40th anniversary of the airline’s inaugural flight. Virgin Atlantic had previously relocated its Caribbean and Florida services from Gatwick to Heathrow during the pandemic but now aims to resume operations at its original base.

Heathrow responded, emphasizing the importance of making thoughtful decisions regarding any expansion. “Our current focus is on optimizing our existing infrastructure to enhance passenger processes, making them faster, more efficient, and resilient,” a spokesperson said.

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