On 14th December a statement from the Secretary of State for Transport on Airport Expansion was repeated in the House of Lords. The Bishop of Bristol, the Rt Revd Mike Hill, asked a follow-up question.
The Lord Bishop of Bristol: My Lords, can the Minister comment on the remarks made by the chief executive officer of International Airlines Group, who said that as far as the airlines are concerned there is basically no business case at all for the extension of Gatwick? When he focused his comments on the Heathrow proposal, he said that the runway would cost £182 million but the total cost would be somewhere around £18.6 billion. He went on to say that this is a,
“gold-plated airport to fleece its customers”,
and that he would consider moving his business either to Madrid or Dublin. If we are to spend all that money on one of these options and if the response of the airlines is to move business away, with the attendant jobs, will the Minister say something about that to your Lordships’ House?
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: The right reverend Prelate raises the media report of comments made over the weekend by the chairman of IAG, which I have read. I assure the right reverend Prelate that we continue not just on this issue of airport expansion in the south-east but meet regularly with all airlines to ensure that, as we plan our infrastructure and how we plan to move forward on this agenda, airlines are part and parcel of our consultation. Obviously, the chairman has made some comments on issues he feels strongly about, but perhaps it would be inappropriate to speculate on the true intent behind his comments.