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Heathrow boss: "Third runway is still part of the strategy" as passenger traffic booms

Heathrow has experienced back-to-back record days for passengers numbers (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Archive)
Heathrow has experienced back-to-back record days for passengers numbers (Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Archive)

The boss of Heathrow has said building a third runway is “still part of the strategy” for coping with ever increasing passenger traffic at Britain’s biggest airport.

Speaking at the Airports Council International Europe congress in Istanbul last week Heathrow’s CEO Thomas Woldbye told delegates that “for us, it’s still part of the strategy — it should be, because the demand seems to be there.”

However he also said that even if the airport does press the button on a third runway in the coming months “it’s going be another 10 or 15 years” to complete.

Officially the controversial plans to add a runway, which have been bitterly opposed by environmental campaigners, residents and politicians in west London remain “under review” after being put on hold during the disruption of the pandemic.

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However with demand for flying soaring far faster than expected since all Covid travel restrictions were lifted more than two years ago there will be increasing pressure on airport bosses to increase capacity for the long term to cope with future expected growth.

Mr Woldbye was speaking ahead of latest strong traffic numbers today showing an all-time record 268,000 passengers passed though the airport on 30 June.

June saw back-to-back days of more than 260,000 passengers a day for the first time and a record 5 days over 260,000 passengers.

For June as a whole passenger traffic was just over 7.4 million, up 5.6% on last year while the rolling 12 months total is 81.9 million, up 12.8%.

Mr Woldbye said: “June has seen more Heathrow records shattered, including serving more passengers in a single day than ever before. I want to thank all my colleagues who went the extra mile to make sure the 268,000 passengers travelling on the busiest day had a smooth, stress free journey.”

Richmond Park Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Olney said: “The 3rd Runway has cast a long shadow over communities in South West London for more than two decades. I’d urge Heathrow’s bosses to abandon the 3rd runway and build a better airport, not a bigger one.”