Airlines React to Government’s Heathrow Court Defeat

(Image: HAL)

Airlines UK, the trade body for UK-registered airlines and other carriers with a UK operation, has expressed its members’ disappointment at yesterday’s court defeat for Heathrow’s expansion plans.

On Thursday, the Court of Appeal ruled that the government’s decision to allow Heathrow to expand and build a third runway was unlawful because the decision had failed to take climate policies into account. The case was brought by environmental groups, local councils and the Mayor of London.

Commenting on the decision today by the Court of Appeal on Heathrow expansion , Tim Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK, the industry body representing several UK-registered airlines, described the court’s decision as “extremely disappointing.” He added: The Sir Howard Davies Airports Commission spent several years looking at airport capacity in the South East and was clear Heathrow is the only game in town, with other schemes being considered and ultimately rejected. The economic prize is enormous if expansion is done right, with airlines ready to respond to the unlocking of new capacity by creating new routes and helping to connect the UK to new markets and destinations, and Heathrow to regions across the country. UK aviation has committed to net zero carbon by 2050 and this factors in the emissions created by Heathrow expansion. It is not a question of being pro-aviation or pro-environment.

“Of course, the advantages of an extra runway won’t be realised if landing charges are ramped up and airlines can’t afford to operate at the airport – and our support for expansion will remain conditional upon Heathrow delivering on their commitment to keep charges at current levels – but we are clear that as a country we cannot keep fudging this issue if we are to maintain our credibility internationally, and we urge Ministers to appeal the decision, back expansion publicly, and ensure it delivers for the whole country.”

Heathrow said it would challenge the court’s decision, but the future of its development plans were left in some doubt when the government failed to back the airport after the court’s announcement. Instead, the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, tweeted that the government would not appeal against the ruling.

The judges ruled that it would still be possible for Heathrow to build a third runway to be built, but only if the development fits with the UK’s climate policy.