UK BAA Chairman, Sir Nigel Rudd, stated London Heathrow Airport is now a “second tier” world airport, following the UK Government’s decision to block the airport’s plans for a third runway (telegraph.co.uk, 25-Sep-2010). Sir Nigel stated the UK risks becoming “less competitive” due to the “political” decision. Sir Nigel stated the airport’s major airlines, including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, would not be able to expand internationally due to the restriction of only two runways at the airport. BAA investors, Ferrovial and Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC), were also confused by the government’s decision. British Airway backed Sir Nigel’s comments, stating the third runway would have “very substantial economic benefits for the whole of the UK”. The carrier now plans to focus on expanding from Madrid Barajas Airport instead once it completes its merger with Iberia.
BAA: “Heathrow is full. I am a strong believer in democracy, and the Government has been elected on the basis that there is no third runway. The question I want answering is, if there is going to be no third runway, and no more in the South East of England, how does the nation cope with the fact that we're going to receive an ever decreasing share of international passengers as all the other major international airports are expanding? As a result, we're becoming less competitive. Even if we continue to make operational improvements, it [Heathrow] will still be a world class but second-tier airport I'm afraid,” Sir Nigel Rudd, Chairman. Source: telegraph.co.uk, 25-Sep-2010.