Belfast Telegraph

Heathrow boss fears runway row could hit Belfast links

By John Mulgrew

Heathrow Airport has reiterated concerns Northern Ireland could lose out on regional routes into London if the green light isn't given for a third runway.

The Airports Commission has said Heathrow was best-placed to provide "urgently required" capacity, but the Government has yet to decide whether to plough ahead with the extension.

There's concern big airlines could drop regional links in favour of more lucrative international connections. Nigel Milton, Heathrow's director of external affairs, told the Belfast Telegraph: "If we don't expand, regional services are going to come under pressure.

"The opportunity of expansion, the message from Government, since they made the announcement, is that the case needs to be made - how the decision will benefit Northern Ireland.

"EasyJet announced if we were to expand it would expand from Belfast International, which would bring a greater choice between airports and bring down prices." Speaking during a visit to Northern Ireland, where he addressed the launch of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association's Alternative Programme for Government, Mr Milton said the message among business groups and politicians was clear: "Get on with it."

Mr Milton said Heathrow Airport also agreed with a Bill put forward by the Ulster Unionist peer Lord Empey in order to ring-fence and protect regional routes. "We think there needs to be some intervention," he said.

And on the possibility of the UK leaving the EU, Mr Milton said there was "concern" over the uncertainty.

Belfast Telegraph