Gatwick And Heathrow Bosses Debate Expansion

24 February 2015, 07:49

The bosses of Heathrow and Gatwick airports have gone head-to-head in a debate on Sky News to argue their case for expansion.


This is the Sky News report on the debate

Heathrow's John Holland-Kaye appeared alongside Gatwick's Stewart Wingate ahead of the summer decision by the Davies Commission.

It happened on the day Heathrow reported a 10% fall in annual profits and said it should be granted expansion because it is "full".

Mr Wingate said Gatwick made for a "compelling case" and warned that if Heathrow was the winner for a new runway there would be dithering for a decade before construction commenced.

"We've seen efforts to expand at Heathrow and every one of those have failed. At Gatwick this is the first time we have been in this competition," Mr Wingate said.

"We can build the runway faster than Heathrow, have it open at least five years sooner, we can build it at half the price and don’t need any public subsidy."

But Mr Holland-Kaye responded by saying Heathrow was central to growth for Britain in the 21st century.

"This is a question of national importance and our future in the world – do we want to be right at the heart of the global economy as we have for 200 years or on a branch line to growth?" Mr Holland-Kaye said.

He said only Heathrow can get Britain connected to growth markets of the world.

"Only Heathrow expansion can help us tackle the balance of payment deficit because we are the UK’s biggest port- and because we are the biggest port we need to expand at Heathrow," Mr Holland-Kaye added.

Both bosses insisted Britain could not continue without additional runway capacity for the capital.

Mr Wingate added that Gatwick would add over £100bn to the UK economy but would be done to minimise any environmental impact.

And Mr Holland-Kaye said Heathrow's expansion would be driven by £16bn of private funding and said the renovated Terminal 2 and the new-build Terminal 5 were great examples of the airport's skill with big infrastructure.

"Gatwick says we can't deliver as quickly. We absolutely can deliver new capacity at Heathrow in 2025," Mr Holland-Kaye added.

"We can build it on the same time scale as Gatwick – it's a real prize for the UK."

But Mr Wingate said Heathrow's estimate of £16bn was some £5bn short of what was required for additional infrastructure.

He said: "The costs that they talk about are actually less than they would be if they went ahead and built it."

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