Heathrow Airport lays out new plans for low-cost airlines and third runway

Landing slots for budget airlines could create demand for new range of shops

The future mix of airlines and passengers at Heathrow is in flux.. EPA
The future mix of airlines and passengers at Heathrow is in flux.. EPA

London’s Heathrow Airport is planning a post-pandemic infrastructure overhaul as it lays out new proposals to build a third runway.

Heathrow Airport chief executive John Holland-Kaye predicted more passengers, more low-cost airlines and new shops as the airport responds to post-pandemic travel trends.

He said it was vital that the long-planned, highly controversial third runway went ahead so that Heathrow, which was stretched to capacity before coronavirus grounded large sections of the industry, could take advantage of a return to normality.

Among the options are an interest from budget airlines in snapping up landing slots at Heathrow, which could lead to fewer first-class passengers using the airport, in turn creating demand for different shops.

“We are trying to look ahead to make sure we have the right facilities. The fact is that airlines want to come into Heathrow,” Mr Holland-Kaye told a meeting of the Capa Centre for Aviation.

“For the long term, we will need more capacity at Heathrow. The UK has left the EU and we need to have a long-haul airport where we are as connected to India and China.

“Airlines want to stay at Heathrow and that has shown the demand is there.”

EasyJet, Ryanair and Jet Blue were mentioned as airlines with ambitions for landing slots.

The aviation industry is in flux as countries attempt to open up their economies and airports, with different levels of success.

Mr Holland-Kaye said landing slot waivers, in force at Heathrow throughout the pandemic, would likely continue into the winter.

Slots at Heathrow can cost $75 million, because of its strong transport links into central London and fees based on expected service levels at the airport.

Mr Holland-Kaye said Heathrow could be rejuvenated by a mix of premium and economy airlines.

Heathrow has continued to operate throughout the pandemic but is working at far below capacity. Passenger numbers are down 90 per cent and flights down from 1,400 a day to 400.

Most passengers were on essential business and until May almost all leisure travel was grounded.

Mt Holland-Kaye told Capa how Heathrow is handling passengers arriving from red list countries, where the government orders them into hotel quarantine.

He told of how e-gates were helping move arriving passengers through the airport faster.

Published: June 9, 2021 07:01 PM

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