Victory For British Airways: London Heathrow Won’t Get A 3rd Runway Until 2028 Or Later

British Airways has a strangle hold on London’s Heathrow airport. A third runway at Heathrow would expand the airport’s capacity, and BA doesn’t want competition. However if a third runway does get built they believe that the majority of the extra capacity should be assigned to them (in the form of takeoff and landing slots).

A pair of takeoff and landing slots at London Heathrow has sold for over $70 million (for flights at peak times). So naturally Virgin Atlantic thinks it should get a government handout of 150 slot pairs as well.


British Airways at London Heathrow

Restrictions on takeoffs and landings, which are held by individual airlines giving them the right to operate, doesn’t actually reduce airport delays but does protect incumbent players from competition. Government hands out the right to operate at a congested airport, which is limited, and any new airline that wants to compete either cannot – or has to pay existing airlines handsomely for the privilege. These slots are a huge government subsidy.

British Airways and parent company IAG executives must be cheering at Waterside today because the British government has delayed any new runway at London Heathrow until at least 2028-2029 (and completion will likely take longer in practice than it’s being projected at now). The project has jumped in cost to $2.9 billion just in planning in early construction and the U.K.’s Civil Aviation Authority says Heathrow cannot move forward pending “the Planning Inspectorate to rule on its development consent order (DCO) application” otherwise much of the spending could happen and then the government in turn says no runway may be built.

london heathrow terminal 5
London Heathrow Terminal 5

On the one hand it took 20 years from the time planning began for London Heathrow’s terminal 5 and when it actually was completed. The UK government announced support for a third Heathrow runway in 2009, so completion in 2029 would also be 20 years. Berlin Brandenburg airport may finally open so anything is possible. The runway could happen. However saying that it’s now a decade away, perhaps more, at least calls into question whether it will happen. At the very least a tremendous amount will change between now and the time Heathrow expands.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. What a disaster for the travelling public…. IMHO dominance of LHR slots has been a huge enabler in BA’s ongoing poor delivery of a degraded product that is simply not competitive in an open market.

  2. At this point, why doesn’t Virgin push to move their core operations (and try to drag SkyTeam allies) to Gatwick or Stansted? I know that’s a lot easier said than done but if BA won’t loose the stranglehold on Heathrow they have to consider alternatives. Beijing and NYC effectively have alliance-split airports, why not London?

  3. Shocker!

    Barely a week after that other puerile, narcissist, imbecile successfully conned deplorables & other gullible rubes into letting him destroy the U.K., by making the same promises that all their problems will magically go away if only they’d just ditch the 21st century to make backwards & long ago discredited 18th/19th century societies/Mercantilist trade policies “Great Again”, say the way his orange skinned, small-“hands” & now impeached (YAY!) “evil twin” has been doing on our side of the pond for almost 3-years we now learn plans for London Heathrow’s desperately long overdue 3-runway are being pushed back – or are being positioned for cancelation as costs continue to escalate and other resources (human & material) are diverted to other similar large scale infrastructure projects around the world.

    What’s next?

    Resurrecting plans to shutter Heathrow in favor resurrecting the idiotic Prime Minister’s grand plans/delusions of grandeur to replace Heathrow Airport by building “Fantasy (Boris) Island”?

    Oh, NOOOOOOO!

    Not THAT insanity – again. 🙁

    Such a shame they let themselves be fooled by their con artist the same way so many here in the USA have by our (Impeached) pathological liar who’s dividing & destroying our country.

    Of course, the irony is they HATE our criminal, (Fake)President – and yet still, they fell for the same type of garbage promises and lies by a con artist who’s sure to do the UK what’s already occurring here in the USA.

    Such a shame – the LOSS of Heathrow’s desperately needed & decades overdue 3rd runway, and that enough voters in the U.K. let themselves be conned into falling for the same lies & false promises built on long ago discredited policies from the distant past that only those less familiar with the real history of events that took place in that past could possibly believe would make their lives “better”.

    Oh, well, I’ll put that soapbox away – it’s just that the mere thought of possibly having to waste time reading about “Boris Island” ever again makes me want to wretch.

    And anything that allows an undeserving monopolist to continue ripping off & abusing consumers as BA surely will even a minute longer also makes me want to wretch as NEITHER is desirable – and yet here we are.

    See, the casualties of Boris Johnson are already beginning to read their ugly heads, and it’s not even 10-days since the election that will rob generations to come of a better future when they finally confront the costs of their electoral folly, and like us in the USA, must undertake the effort & pay the price to restore what was stolen from them.

  4. “Barely a week after that other puerile, narcissist, imbecile successfully conned deplorables & other gullible rubes into letting him destroy the U.K., by making the same promises that all their problems will magically go away if only they’d just ditch the 21st century to make backwards & long ago discredited 18th/19th century societies/Mercantilist trade policies “Great Again”, say the way his orange skinned, small-“hands” & now impeached (YAY!) “evil twin” has been doing on our side of the pond for almost 3-years we now learn plans for London Heathrow’s desperately long overdue 3-runway are being pushed back – or are being positioned for cancellation as costs continue to escalate and other resources (human & material) are diverted to other similar large scale infrastructure projects around the world.”

    It is a late entrant, but this has to be a contender for rant of the year. I loved reading this!

  5. RE: It is a late entrant, but this has to be a contender for rant of the year. I loved reading this!

    @CLTflyer,

    Thanks! 😉

  6. @Howard Miller

    You must really hate this strong economy. If his policies are so bad then why is the economy so strong? Oh yeah, Obama gets credit for Trump’s growth, and blames Bush for his 8 years of pathetic stagnation. It was supposed to crash if Trump was elected, right? Seems like a similar leftist scare tactic is being used with brexit.

    Next time try brevity to get your point across, if you even had one.

  7. I’m not so sure this is as big a win for BA as Gary thinks. As Heathrow gets more congested, increasing numbers of connecting flyers may opt to skip Heathrow and, hence, BA. Nine years with no new runway is a long time given the current congestion.

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