Government has no idea on airports, says IAG chief Willie Walsh: Guardian

Posted: May 11, 2012 in Airlines, Aviation & Airports (General News), Heathrow
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[Guardian] The boss of BA and Iberia airlines owner says he will not take part in consultations as some options have been ruled out in advance. 

Willie Walsh's IAG is the largest airline group at Heathrow

Willie Walsh’s IAG is the largest airline group at Heathrow. Photo: ps group

Willie Walsh, the boss of International Airlines Group, has said he will not be engaging in the coalition’s long-awaited consultation on the future of Britain’s airports because the government “has no idea what it is talking about”.

The overdue draft aviation policy is expected to be published this summer along with a call for evidence on hub airport capacity. Walsh and others, notably the airport operator BAA, have long argued that a hub airport – one sufficiently large to allow connecting passengers to fill long-haul routes – is crucial and that Heathrow, Britain’s only hub, is no longer big enough to allow flights to new destinations. As the owner of British Airways and Spain’s Iberia, IAG is the largest airline group at Heathrow.

Walsh said: “When I hear the government talking about an intelligent use of capacity at Heathrow – they have no idea what they are talking about. This is the government that cancelled the third runway. They don’t know what they are talking about. I’ve no confidence that this government will able to meet the challenge.”

Walsh questioned whether the consultation would be “real”, saying: “If they close off options before they start, I don’t see the merit in engaging with it.”

The coalition has ruled out a third Heathrow runway, and last week the transport secretary, Justine Greening, said “mixed mode” – allowing takeoffs and landings on the same runway – would also not be considered. However, Greening said the government would look at other, unspecified ways of maximising Heathrow’s capacity.

George Osborne, the chancellor, has said the government will explore all options for maintaining Britain’s airport hub capacity with the exception of a third runway at Heathrow.

Walsh said: “We need to be honest and mature – if you’re going to have a……

Read the full story at The Guardian…..

Gwyn Topham, transport correspondent
Friday 11 May 2012


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