Shocker: Heathrow’s Third Runway Delayed

Filed Under: Aviation

Heathrow Airport is one of the most congested airports in the world, and the airport is heavily slot restricted. Slots at this airport are so valuable that a single Air France-KLM slot pair was sold to Oman Air for $75 million in 2016.

Heathrow’s Third Runway Plans (Up Until Now)

The UK has been trying to figure out the best way to go about expanding air access to London, in spite of the fact that there are six airports around the city. The most controversial and popular solution has been to build a third runway at Heathrow Airport.

In late 2016, the government of the UK “recommended” that Heathrow receive a third runway, and then in mid 2018 it was formally approved by the UK Parliament, following the UK Transport Secretary preparing a bill.

With that plan, the third runway would have been ready for operation by 2026 at the earliest.

Third Runway Delayed To 2028-2029

I’m sure this will come as a surprise to absolutely no one, but it’s now being reported by BBC that the project to build Heathrow’s third runway has been delayed by “at least” 12 months, meaning the airport expects the third runway between 2028 and 2029 at the earliest.

This comes after the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) rejected Heathrow’s plan to increase spending for the project from £650 million to £2.4 billion, prior to even getting planning consent.

The CAA is worried that passengers will be footing the cost of this in the event that Heathrow doesn’t in the end get permission to expand. The CAA has said that they think the best approach is to limit early construction costs to £1.6 billion.

An independent investigation into these plans also revealed that the third runway being operational by 2026 was an “aggressive schedule,” even prior to the airport being granted official development consent.

I Doubt Heathrow’s Third Runway Will Happen

Personally I remain highly skeptical of whether Heathrow will ever get a third runway. Given the pace at which they’re moving, I feel like it isn’t going to happen during the upcoming decade, if at all.

There’s already so much opposition to a third runway at Heathrow, and with environmentalism becoming an increasingly hot topic, I just feel like the odds of this happening are decreasing by the day.

Add in Brexit and British Airways’ opposition to the expansion, and there’s just a lot more working against this project than in favor of it.

Do you think Heathrow’s third runway will ever happen, and if so, with what timeline?

  1. BA don’t have a block on this. They might not like having to pay their share of it (or their passengers paying for it) though and will whine about it constantantly.

    They won’t be complaining when they get a load of extra slots will they?

    If they dont like it they can either reduce ops at LHR or lump it. Wilie Walsh has threatned in the past to pull out of both LHR and LGW (and go to Stanstead or Luton!) but in essence he got laughed at.

    HAL already has a list of airlines wanting extra slots at LHR – and willing to pay the landing fees etc – so would soon fill them up.

  2. I’m quite sure there will never be a third RWY at LHR. But hey, don’t worry, they are used to move the dates. Does Brexit says you anything…

  3. The third runway was first discussed over 50 years ago. I would be very surprised if it happens in my lifetime. Faster and cheaper to expand Gatwick.

  4. We’re also waiting for Boris the Buffoon to lie down in front of the bulldozers…

    He has promised to but then he’s also a serial liar.

  5. As a Londoner, I can state what all aviation fans know already: Heathrow is in the wrong place. It was developed as an airfield in the early days of flying and that was fine. But it’s to the west of the city, and the prevailing winds are from the west. This means that most fights fly over central London on arrival. Not ideal.

    Anyone knows that a London airport should be to the east of the city, and given that a brand new airport is only a pipe dream, it’s ASTONISHING that Gatwick (to the south, in a more rural environment) wasn’t selected for expansion. Gatwick’s great on the whole, it has better rail links into both London Bridge, the City, and Victoria. Heathrow’s rail goes into Paddington which doesn’t get most visors where they want to be.

    I always use Gatwick whenever possible and would advise any visitor to London to do so. Heathrow expansion is an entirely political decision.

  6. The decision should have been to build a 2nd runway at LGW when both were up for consideration. If LHR doesn’t proceed with the plan, environmentalists may make it hard to expand any of the London airports given the new Greta Thunberg inspired hysteria about air travel…

  7. @Stanley For the majority of the country, Heathrow is very much not in the wrong place. It would add at least an hour’s journey time coming from the west of the country to get to an airport in to the east of London.
    Also I’ve never understood Londoners complaining about aircraft flying overhead. You live in one of the great cities of the world, you have far more spent per head on transport infrastructure than the rest of the country, you have all the investment. Heathrow’s arrivals are a small price to pay.

  8. the planning permission was subject to LHR submitting an acceptable plan on how they would control air quality – both from the additional aircraft and from additional cars.

    as far as i know, LHR haven’t even submitted a plan – let alone had one approved !

  9. My bet: Now that Boris is in charge of the country and has the full backing of the parliament, he may revive his new airport built in the Thames idea. This newly built airport would be a great competitive advantage over the other chaotic hubs in Europe such as Amsterdam, Paris-CDG, Frankfurt and even Munich which is also becoming a clusterf*ck with the newest expansion plans.

    @all those who think Gatwick has the better rail connection than Heathrow: Just wait for the full opening of Crossrail.

  10. Cross rail will surely open and will be great but it rapidly becoming the Berlin Brandenburg of Rail projects.

  11. Gatwick was easier to access before climate change. The Guardian reports today:

    Heavy rain and flooding have wreaked havoc on railways and roads in parts of the UK as pre-Christmas travel is expected to peak. . . .The rail and road problems meant travellers struggled to reach Gatwick airport. Rail passengers were advised to make alternative arrangements while Network Rail worked to restore services on the Thameslink route, with some express trains from the capital also affected. The motorway serving the airport, the M23, was also shut after a nearby river burst its banks.

  12. @ Tolly what are you smoking Gatwick is far more inconvenient for reaching central London, while heathrow is far from perfect its transport connections are far far better

  13. What did you expect?

    For a country that took 3 years and 3 PM (as of now) and still can’t get much bigger issue like Brexit anywhere (really believe Jan 2020 is finally it?) I doubt LHR runway problems will be solved anytime soon.

    Not to mention the Brits are probably more interested in Royal gossips and Meghan Markle than Brexit. Much more Meghan haters than Brexit haters.

  14. The main reason why the UK prime minister Boris Johnson (I’m not a fan) is not really for or against the third runway is because his constituency (district) is incredibly close to Heathrow. The third runway is extremely unpopular in the parts of West London that are close to Heathrow mainly because of the increased noise and air pollution. As a resident of North Central London (Camden Town) I think the third runway should just be built instead of dithering around and allowing airports such as Frankfurt and Charles De Gaulle to surpass Heathrow.

  15. @ChrisC
    BA has no problem getting slots for their own use. they are happy with the way things are. More slots would mean competition has an easier time getting into the market.

  16. @stanley

    Takeoff is noisy – landing is almost silent. Taking off to the west into the wind from LHR means not over the city thus no need to restrict takeoff thrust for noise abatement reasons.

    So situated west of London with winds from the west means its a great location. Mind you it does add extra time and distanace for flights to Europe and Asia.

  17. Gatwick should be expanded. When I am a passenger looking out the window, I see plenty of space around Gatwick. Heathrow is more crowded. London City is impossible.

    So build a 2nd and 3rd runway at LGW. Technically, they have a 2nd runway at LGW but not really. It’s more of a taxiway.

  18. There isn’t much opposition for the third runway, there is just the perception of lots of opposition. Unfortunately the media likes to interview the few hundred residents that shout the loudest against the runway and make it seem like there is widespread opposition as that sort of news sells. Politicians want a new runway but are scared the media will slaughter them and they’ll be out of a job

  19. As expensive as it may be, a new runway at Heathrow is cheaper than trying to expand Gatwick given the total cost of all of the projects involved. Transferring traffic to Gatwick wouldn’t just mean building a new runway, it would require massive expansions to the entire airport infrastructure since Gatwick currently handles just over half the annual traffic of Heathrow.

    Once you factor in the costs of terminal expansion, general improvements in airport infrastructure (roadways, parking, etc.), expanding mass transit and road access to handle the increased traffic, etc., it all starts to get rather expensive. Whereas Heathrow already has most of the infrastructure in place, with newer terminals, lots of transit access, etc. And airlines would have to deal with the logistics issues of splitting more traffic between Heathrow and Gatwick, making connections less convenient.

    Maybe in an ideal world, the British government comes up with the money for a new-build airport, but I suspect that simply isn’t a budgetary priority now. A third runway at Heathrow is the cheapest and fastest way to increase London’s long-haul capacity, which is why it keeps coming back up despite whatever complaints arise from locals. That doesn’t mean it’s cheap or fast, but it’s better than the alternatives at meeting the desired goal.

  20. Ex DOH says:
    December 20, 2019 at 5:35 pm

    @ Tolly what are you smoking Gatwick is far more inconvenient for reaching central London, while heathrow is far from perfect its transport connections are far far better

    Why do people post such rubbish as the above?

    Gatwick has BETTER connections to central London than LHR. A one seat train ride to Victoria, London Bridge and St Pancras opens up huge parts of the city with far more options than LHR .

    Then there are all the links to / from the south coast.

    Get the train to Clapham Junction and then you have train options to the South West.

    Victoria and London Bridge opens up Kent. St Pancras trains to the Midlands and King’s Cross next door to St Pancras opens up trains to the north of England and Scotland all much easier than from LHR.

    Crossrail will make LHR easier for some people to access but LGW will still have the better access to London

  21. Hi Guys… Even if US (Miami) based, I fly in and out of Heathrow and Gatwick a couple of dozen times per year, so I definitely know the turf. Travel to/from either depends almost totally on where in London you will be. Yet if you are lucky enough to be located anywhere near the Piccadilly Tube line (which has almost the greatest breadth thru the city), it is fabulously easy, inexpensive (maybe £5), and you are door-to-door (or at least station to station) in well under an hour, with no change or transfer required! Comparatively, the Gatwick Express from LGW, or for that matter the Heathrow Express from LHR, both cost out at around £20-£25 one-way with tube extension (and that’s at off-peak hours), and virtually always require one or more changes, because there is really only one main end-station… thus usually taking far longer in the end. And to add one more tremendous benefit for LHR, both BA and AA have truly excellent Arrivals Lounges (Showers, Pressing, Excellent Breakfasts, etc.), with this not even existing at Gatwick!

    As for Stansted and Luton, these are both somewhat in the hinterlands, needing almost another voyage onto itself… and that’s why they’re mainly for the low-cost airlines. Yet one of the finest other options (used on a small basis but by top airlines) is London City (LCY), which is well connected and speedy in every way. Sending wishes of Happy Holidays to all of us who enjoy and appreciate OMAAT as a please to all share fine points and good ideas!!

  22. As someone who lives in the rest of the UK (Leicestershire) , Heathrow is a lot easier to get to than Gatwick. A expanded airport has to support the whole of the UK, not just London and Heathrow makes a lot more sense for the country as a whole.

  23. @OfTheWorld — Thanks for the perfect reply to @ChrisC. Even when the trains to Gatwick are running and the roads leading there are not flooded, it is an expensive and inconvenient alternative to Heathrow.

  24. With the decline of the west – the demise of US airports and the fall of Europe, China is the future of aviation.

  25. What comes first- a third Heathrow runway, the successful opening of Berlin Bradenberg, or the apocalypse?

  26. Why can’t they expand the other airports in London instead? Gatwick would be a good candidate for an expansion. It would encourage more competition.

  27. The obvious solution from my perspective is just to open Heathrow to fly 24 hours a day. This would increase capacity by about 33% without increasing infastructure costs. Rather than costing extra money, it would bring in extra money. Most Asian and African countries run their Airports all night. If anyone wants to sell their house due to increase nightly noise, then the government can guarantee to buy it at the pre-noise rate if it doesn’t sell in a month. My thinking is that people near trains can get used to the train noise and people near airports can get used to the airplane noise.

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *