Ryanair claims £18bn runway will lead to higher fares

IAG welcomes British government’s decision to add a new runway at Heathrow airport

Willie Walsh: The IAG chief executive said the company was “pleased that a decision has finally been made but the cost of this project will make or break it”. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Willie Walsh: The IAG chief executive said the company was “pleased that a decision has finally been made but the cost of this project will make or break it”. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

The British government’s decision to give the green light to a third runway at Heathrow will lead to higher airport fees and higher air fares for consumers flying in and out of the airport, it has been claimed.

Ryanair said the decision would encourage less competition between Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick airports and it claimed the £18 billion (€20 billion) price tag would lead to higher air fares for those travelling through the airport.

Irish interest in the development over the coming years will centre around the 23 slots Aer Lingus has at the airport. However, when contacted the airline directed all queries to its parent company International Airlines Group (IAG).

It was quick to welcome the decision to expand Heathrow and said it was “pleased that the [British] government has recognised the cost to customers must not increase from today’s level if the airport is to have a future”.

IAG chief executive Willie Walsh said the company was “pleased that a decision has finally been made but the cost of this project will make or break it. The government’s directive to cap customer charges at today’s level is fundamental”.

Additional runways

Ryanair accused the British government of “dithering over additional runway capacity” in the London area and called for it to give the go-ahead for a three-runway solution which would allow Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted to develop additional runways “as and when they see fit to do so”.

The airline has long campaigned for more competition and choice between runways in the London region and was vocal in its criticism of the decision to approve the third runway at Heathrow, an airport where it currently does not have any slots.

A spokesman for the airline said it was too early to speculate on what impact the third runway would have on travellers to and from London from Ireland as the new runway will not be operational for at least a decade.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said the “piecemeal approach to runway infrastructure in the southeast” was damaging tourism and the competitiveness of London airports.

He said giving the go-ahead for a third runway at Heathrow over Gatwick was not the way forward. “London now benefits from three competing airports and three large competing airlines [BA, EasyJet and Ryanair] and the best way to deliver additional runways in a timely and cost-efficient manner is to approve three additional runways, one each at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted,” said Mr O’Leary.

He said the threat of additional runways at competitor airports would force Heathrow to keep its costs down while developing a third runway in the most timely and efficient manner.