The panel which opened the conference including John Holland-Kaye, CEO of London Heathrow Airport.
John Holland-Kaye, CEO of London Heathrow Airport (LHR) spoke only briefly at this year’s British-Irish Airports Expo in west London, yet his comments were positive and upbeat.
It was all smiles for the airport after the announcement that the UK government’s cabinet had backed the construction of a third runway. However, there was a notable exclusion on comments regarding compensation for those residents who will feel the effects of Heathrow’s expansion the most.
The expo in west London began yesterday and was kicked off by keynote addresses by the UK’s aviation minister, Baroness Sugg and the chief executive of LHR , Holland-Kaye.
Backed by a screen with a logo strapped across it stating ‘the world is waiting for Heathrow’, Holland-Kaye noted to the audience how now was the time for the airport to expand. Holland-Kaye remarked that a third runway was not always a viable option in certain contexts: it was not the “right” time to expand in the Concorde era, he noted.
But capacity was not the imperative pressing concern that Heathrow is currently dealing with. Over the last 4-5 years, the consensus has been building for the construction of a third runway, Holland-Kaye stated and he welcomed the government cabinet’s backing after previous government’s failed to find the answer to the Heathrow question.
The airport cannot tap into new markets without capacity; Paris is over-taking Heathrow as the best-connected airport because of this, Holland-Kaye said. Big cities in China with vast populations are an important market, for one example, that Heathrow can take advantage of with extra capacity.
Positives aside, there was no comment on how nearby residents, whom will be affected most by Heathrow’s planned expansion, would be taken care of and compensated.
Part of the opposition to building a third runway has been how it will displace nearby residents and cause noise concerns for those further out. Both the aviation minister and Holland-Kaye did not focus any of their speeches to offering an answer to this. The true extent of compensation does not seem to be completely transparent as of yet.
Heathrow needs to expand as soon as possible, Holland-Kaye noted. It was stated that the expansion will benefit the UK economy by £74bn. But to what extent the people who are affected most by the construction of a third runway will benefit remains unclear.