17 July 2002

BA pleads for new runway at Heathrow

By Paul Marston, Transport Correspondent

Heathrow will disappear from the list of Europe's top 10 airports unless it is given an extra runway, British Airways said yesterday.

With the Government preparing to issue a consultation paper on airport expansion, the airline said it was essential that Britain's premier gateway was allowed to grow to meet passenger demand.

Ministers are expected to include a third runway for Heathrow among the options in next week's document, but no decision will be taken before next year.

Additional runways for Gatwick and Stansted are also likely to be proposed as possibilities, alongside the idea of a new four-runway airport in the Thames estuary off Kent.

BA said extra runways would be needed at Birmingham and Edinburgh or Glasgow within the 30 years the Government's policy will cover.

In its annual social and environmental report, BA said there were "strong environmental arguments" in favour of concentrating new capacity at existing airports. This would minimise for extra land, reduce the spread of noise and make rail and road links more viable.

BA, which is supported in its view by almost all major carriers, described Heathrow as the only UK airport with the potential to sustain a global network of routes and frequent services. But lack of take-off and landing slots meant it was falling behind European competitors.

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