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Heathrow Airport denies report saying plans for third runway have been shelved

In World
February 25, 2024

LONDON – Heathrow Airport said a decision on adding a third runway has not been taken, denying a report by The Sunday Times that the plans have been shelved.

“The speculation in today’s Sunday Times is wrong, and Heathrow recognises neither the plans nor actions described,” a spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement on Feb 25.

The newspaper wrote that Heathrow Airport Holdings chief executive Thomas Woldbye wanted to scrap the expansion and had begun the process of disbanding a team focused on the project, citing sources it did not identify. 

The airport, which saw passenger numbers rise about 29 per cent to 79.2 million in 2023, will review proposals including extending the use of buses to deliver travellers to aircraft and other measures to boost existing runway efficiency, according to the report.

Heathrow Airport is “looking at how we can optimise the current airport to achieve short-term growth within our current infrastructure. Longer term, we’re reviewing our plans to make sure the airport has the capacity the UK economy needs, while boosting the resilience of our operations for our customers and meeting our sustainability commitments,”  the statement said.

The longstanding push to develop an additional runway at Heathrow has been snarled by legal challenges by groups including local residents and environmental campaigners, as well as by the impact of the pandemic. Heathrow reported its first annual profit since 2019 last week.

Heathrow is focusing on short-term measures to expand as well as studying longer term projects such as the new runway, Mr Woldbye said in an interview on Feb 21. 

Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Company is considering buying into Heathrow and would join Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and Qatar Investment Authority as major shareholders, people familiar with the matter said last week. BLOOMBERG

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