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BA third runway is dead

BA third runway is dead

British Airways has given up hope of seeing a third runway built at Heathrow Airport, Willie Walsh has admitted.

» Special Reports | Wednesday, June 22, 2011 • Air News Times
Mr Walsh, chief executive of BA's parent company International Airlines Group, said that the airline is now looking for space to grow at foreign cities with a focus of attention on Madrid.

He said that the Coalition’s decision to cancel expansion at the west London airport meant that the runway plan was now “dead”.

BA was one of the main driving forces behind plans to expand its Heathrow hub and campaigners against the proposalhailed Mr Walsh’s admission as a victory.

But business groups warned that it represented “tangible evidence” that current transport policy is damaging the British economy.

Mr Walsh said: “I agree that a third runway will never be built at Heathrow.”

Speaking at a chief executives’ summit organised by The Times newspaper, he said that overcrowding in London had already forced airlines to look elsewhere.

“We’ve already lost because the growth in Dubai could have come to London,” he said.

Following its merger with the Spanish carrier Iberia in January, BA is now understood to be looking for new slots overseas.

“We will access growth outside of the UK,” he said.

Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, told the summit: “If BA is telling us that in order to expand it has to go to Madrid that’s pretty serious.”

Mr Johnson, who supports a plan to build a massive new airport in the Thames estuary, said Heathrow had been operating close to capacity for years and “perpetually struggling to fit a quart into a point pot.”
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