After running into multiple delays, the expansion of the United Kingdom’s busiest airport, London Heathrow International Airport (LHR), was pushed back once again. The British Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) denied permission for the airport to increase spending, delaying the project by another 12 months. Work is estimated to be finished by early 2028 or late 2029.
The airport asked the CAA to greenlight a spending increase from $846 million (£650 million) to $3.1 billion (£2.4 billion). Arguing that the increase in spending would result in a hike in costs that the passers would have to absorb, the authority denied Heathrow’s request.
“However, we have also been clear that timeliness is not the only factor that is important to consumers. Passengers cannot be expected to bear the risk of Heathrow Airport Limited spending too much in the early phases of development, should planning permission not be granted,” said group director of consumers and markets at the CAA, Paul Smith.
While the authority does agree that a third runway is required “to prevent future consumers experiencing higher airfares, reduced choice and lower service quality,” argues Smith, the expansion project is facing a lot of backlash from the local community and climate activists, who argue against noise and the increased emissions from the additional capacity the airport could handle.
In 2018, the House of Commons voted in favor of the expansion plans and Heathrow launched an Airport Expansion Consultation on June 18, which finished on September 13. Amidst the consultation, on July 29, 2019, the United Kingdom’s Court of Appeal granted local residents and environmental groups another chance to fight the proposed expansion of London’s most important airport.
“The CAA’s announcement is an important milestone in expanding Heathrow and connecting all of Britain to global growth. It increases certainty for our local communities and for the job creation, increased trade and lower airfares that expansion delivers. We will now review the detail to ensure it will unlock the initial £1.5 – 2 billion of private investment over the next two years at no cost to the taxpayer,” states the official press release by the airport.
The local authorities are yet to grant permission to build the third runway.