LONDON: The owner of British Airways has thrown its support behind a new third runway plan for London’s Heathrow airport from the wealthy founder of the Arora hotel group who claims he can cut the price of the project by up to £7bn.
“Arora’s Heathrow proposal is a welcome alternative to the airport’s own costly scheme,” said Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group, parent of BA, which is the biggest airline at Heathrow.
Mr Walsh on Sunday urged the government to study the proposal closely, adding that in post-Brexit UK, Heathrow would need to compete effectively with European hubs and not “price itself out of the market”.
Virgin Atlantic chief executive Craig Kreeger also welcomed the “fresh thinking” from hotel magnate Surinder Arora, whose rival runway proposal has been devised with help from US construction giant Bechtel and former BA chief executive Sir Rod Eddington.
Mr Arora, whose hotel and property group is one of the largest landowners at Heathrow, said the airport’s current runway plan, estimated to cost about £16bn, would lead to an “unacceptable and untenable level of airline and passenger charges”.
His proposal has been submitted to the government as part of its consultation on the Heathrow runway that ministers backed last year, after more than a decade of delays and indecision about how to expand airport capacity in south-east England.
Arora claims it could save £5.2bn by amending Heathrow’s plan for a third runway to the north-west of the airport, partly by reducing the site area by 20 per cent, as well as cutting the amount of demolition and groundworks required.