Belfast Telegraph

BA 'will not help pay for Heathrow expansion unless budget is controlled'

The boss of British Airways' parent company IAG has warned that the airline will not contribute towards the cost of Heathrow expansion unless the budget is tightly controlled.

Willie Walsh described the decision of the Civil Aviation Authority to write to the airport stressing the importance of it working with airlines to "drive value for money" as "absolutely critical".

The scheme, confirmed as the Government's preferred location for a new runway last month, was estimated by the Airports Commission to cost £17.6 billion.

Speaking at travel trade show World Travel Market at the ExCeL centre in east London, Mr Walsh said: "The days of airports just building expensive, inefficient infrastructure and passing the cost on to airlines and our customers, those days are over.

"We're not going to tolerate it any more, we have been absolutely clear in relation to that.

"I think the economic case for the expansion of Heathrow is very strong but there's no way anyone on this world justifies spending the £17.6 billion that was being identified in the manner in which it was going to be spent. Absolutely no way.

"That would have been an outrageous waste of money and the people taking the risk were the airlines and the airline customers, rather than the shareholders."

Mr Walsh insisted "we're not going to pay for inefficient expansion of the airport", saying the £4.3 billion Terminal 5, which opened in 2008, is "fantastic, but boy was it expensive".

He told the audience that just 1% of the estimated cost for boosting capacity at Heathrow is for the runway, with £800 million going towards a car park.

"I have no objection to Heathrow expansion," he said. "I think that would be good. I have no objection to Gatwick expansion.

"I do object to having to pay for it unless what they are building is what we need and unless what they are building is built in an efficient manner.

"I have a huge objection to the idea that you can built anything at any price in the name of the national economy and expect others to pick up the tab for it."