Virgin CEO says Heathrow expansion ‘must benefit passengers’

The CEO of Virgin Atlantic has called on planners to ensure any expansion to Heathrow Airport primarily benefits passengers and generates increased competition among carriers. 

London Heathrow.
London Heathrow.

Responding to the publication of the government’s National Policy Statement on airports to enable Heathrow expansion, Virgin Atlantic CEO Craig Kreeger commented: “We support Heathrow expansion provided that it delivers for passengers a transformative increase in airline competition and genuine value for money. We will study the Government’s National Policy Statement to ensure its provisions do just that.

“Expansion is an exciting, once in a generation opportunity to significantly increase airline competition at the UK’s hub airport. When one airline group has a stranglehold on almost 60% of the slots at the airport, it inevitably limits the amount of competition that Virgin Atlantic and other carriers can provide. If the full benefits of the new runway are to be realised, new capacity must be allocated in a way that brings more choice, lower fares and better service for customers.

“We are pleased that the Government, the CAA and the airport are talking about the importance of affordability, but the devil will be in the detail and strict cost control is absolutely vital. With passenger charges at Heathrow already the highest in the world, it is simply untenable to increase them further to fund expansion. As tens of millions more passengers start using the airport when the runway opens, our customers would expect charges to fall over time to more internationally competitive levels.”

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