Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Heathrow poised for cash injection to give a 'better experience'

The chief executive of International Airlines Group (IAG) has welcomed potential fresh investment in Heathrow airport.

Willie Walsh's comments come following reports the London hub's parent company Heathrow Airport Holdings (HAH) is in talks to sell its share in Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports to Spanish operator Ferrovial.

If the deal, thought to be for around £800m, goes ahead, HAH is expected to focus its investment and management – two factors Mr Walsh has been critical of in the past – on Heathrow.

"We want to see sensible investment in Heathrow," he said. "Economic regulation of the airport has to be fair. In the past, we've see incentives for Heathrow to spend money, and that hasn't necessarily meant spending money in a wise way."

The latter point centres on the ongoing row between airlines and the airport, refereed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Heathrow wants to raise landing charges while airlines want charges kept to a minimum.

HGH will also need to keep focused on running an extremely busy airport. "The challenge for Heathrow is, it's full," Mr Walsh said. "As good as the terminals are, there's not going to be extra runway capacity. In adverse weather there's not much opportunity to recover, but it's got much better at managing disruption."

And if HGH offloads its other airports, he's confident of a better experience. "We're optimistic that the investment Heathrow makes will benefit not just British Airways," he added.

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