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Alternative Heathrow Airport expansion plan revealed

Arora Group estimates building a new runway and accommodating 130 million passengers per year would cost £14.4 billion.

A hotel and property company has unveiled designs for expanding Heathrow in a way it claims is cheaper than the airport’s own plan.

Arora Group says its third runway scheme would cost “under half” the amount of Heathrow Airport Limited’s (HAL) scheme.

The firm, founded by tycoon Surinder Arora, wants to concentrate new terminal capacity between Terminal 5 and the M25 to avoid having to redevelop Terminals 2 and 3, which would be “far more expensive and disruptive”.

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Illustration of plans for an alternative Heathrow Airport expansion (Arora Group/PA)

HAL’s plan has the support of the Government, and it will receive outline planning consent if it passes a vote in Parliament due in the coming weeks.

Amid concern from airlines that they will be hit with increased fees as a result of the project, Arora Group says it offers a cheaper alternative.

It estimates that building a new runway and accommodating 130 million passengers per year would cost £14.4 billion under its method.

Although HAL has indicated its plan will cost £14 billion, this is “misleading” as it will need to invest further to accommodate the full capacity of passengers, Arora Group claimed.

“The Arora plans are therefore ultra-efficient and at a cost of under half HAL’s,” it added.

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Arora Group's illustration of its plans

It stated that the Government’s Airports Commission estimated the HAL plan would cost £31 billion.

Mr Arora said: “Heathrow has been in monopoly control for too long and our proposals show what can be achieved through an alternative approach and Heathrow fully welcoming competition.”

A spokesman for British Airways’ parent company IAG urged the Government to allow third parties to run terminals at the west London hub.

He said: “The Arora proposal looks very interesting and deserves to be properly evaluated so that customers can get the best facilities at the most affordable price.”

Virgin Atlantic chief executive Craig Kreeger described Heathrow expansion as a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to challenge the status quo.

“Arora have developed a plan that will bring down the cost of construction and inject competition at the UK’s hub airport,” he said.

“At first look, this plan appears to be a credible alternative.

“Virgin Atlantic believes passionately in the benefits of competition to consumers, so we urge all involved in Heathrow expansion to give the Arora plan serious consideration.”

HAL hopes to begin construction in early 2021, with the third runway completed by the end of 2025.

John Holland-Kaye, HAL chief executive, said Arora Group’s proposals “show a complete lack of understanding of airport operations and disregard for those living closest to the airport”.

He went on: “I have met with Mr Arora several times to see how we can work together to deliver the integrated hub airport capacity that Britain needs. Each time he has refused to engage with us.”

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