Former BA exec opposes third runway - Heathrow Airport News

Airport news for Heathrow on 08/05/2008.

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Former chief executive of British Airways, Bob Ayling, recently published a scathing article in the Times, expressing a strong opinion that Heathrow should not go ahead with plans for a third runway. In his letter to the newspaper, the former executive said that the additional runway was, “a costly mistake”, that it was “against the interests of Britain.” He even went so far as to call the scheme “a flight of fallacy” and predicted that it “is likely, in the long term, to prove a costly mistake.”

Although the plans for a third runway have many opponents, Mr. Ayling is the first significant figure from the aviation industry to voice concerns. According to the Times, his anti-runway stance “strikes at the heart of the government’s case that it is essential for the health of the country’s economy.”

According to Mr. Ayling, the plans to expand Heathrow’s runways are being pushed forward by “the misguided aspirations of British airlines.” He said: “An expanded hub at Heathrow might not even be beneficial to British Airways. Transfer traffic in its own right is loss making. What Ruth Kelly and the government do not see is that transfer passengers, for whom such a hub would be built, spend no money in Britain, at least little beyond the value of a cup of tea.”

Instead of building another runway at Heathrow, Mr. Ayling has some ideas of his own for the aviation industry. He suggests another runway at Stansted or Gatwick as well as reducing the number of transfer flights landing at the airport and operating the airport at a reduced capacity. Finally, Mr. Ayling suggests that British Airports Authority, the group running Heathrow, be broken up to allow for more competition in the industry.

Mr. Ayling receives a pension from British Airways for his work heading the organization from 1996 to 2000.

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