Belfast Telegraph

Walsh says Heathrow expansion 'unaffordable'

By Neil Lancefield

The boss of British Airways has claimed that Heathrow Airport should not be expanded based on the "outrageous" estimated costs.

Willie Walsh said he believes the figures are either "hugely inflated" or the project should not go ahead.

The Davies Commission into airport capacity estimated that the total cost of expanding Heathrow would be £18.6bn. Mr Walsh, the chief executive of IAG, which also owns Iberia and Vueling, warned that the airline industry would not be able to afford the extra charges associated with an expanded Heathrow and insisted that infrastructure projects must be both "efficient and cost-effective".

He told the Airport Operators Association conference in west London: "The expectation that the industry can afford to spend the amount of money identified in the Davies Commission to expand Heathrow I think is unrealistic.

"I don't think the industry can afford it."

The Government has said that it will deliver its formal response to the commission before Christmas. The Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and other business leaders in the province have said they are in favour of Heathrow expansion.

But Sir Roy McNulty, the Northern Ireland-born chairman of Gatwick Airport, has said an expanded Gatwick will be better placed to serve the regional market.

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