Heathrow Hub launches legal challenge to airport expansion

Heathrow Hub launches legal challenge to airport expansion

Heathrow Hub has formally complained to the Competition & Markets Authority about the behaviour of Heathrow Airport Ltd regarding airport expansion.

Heathrow Hub is an independent proposal to expand Heathrow Airport via an extended northern runway.

The complaint, submitted on Heathrow Hub’s behalf by its legal advisers DAC Beachcroft, contends that Heathrow Airport has abused its dominant market position as the nation’s only hub airport by effectively and unfairly vetoing the northern runway plan.

Heathrow Airport Ltd declined to provide the necessary written guarantee that, if selected by Chris Grayling, the secretary of state for transport, it would work on standard commercial terms with Heathrow Hub to implement the concept.

The complaint is supported by documentary evidence showing that Grayling requested Heathrow Airport to say whether it would provide such a guarantee in August 2016 and, despite commencing due diligence, the Heathrow Airport board declined to do so.

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Grayling is on the record saying that the lack of this guarantee was “the biggest issue” and a “fundamental problem” in not selecting the extended runway.

In its complaint to the CMA, Heathrow Hub claims consumers and airlines will have to fund the higher costs of Heathrow Airport’s complex and risky third runway scheme.

The group argues passengers will suffer from unfair prices and trading conditions.

Heathrow Hub also contends new airport capacity is being artificially controlled and limited, because Heathrow’s complex scheme will take at least four years longer to deliver.

The remedy sought by Heathrow Hub is that the Competition & Markets Authority requests Heathrow Airport provide a guarantee or, failing that, it conducts a formal investigation into Heathrow’s behaviour, using its extensive powers under the 1998 Competition Act.

Jock Lowe, director of Heathrow Hub, said: “Our scheme is cheaper, quicker, quieter and easier to build than the third Runway.

“After years of trying to work co-operatively with Heathrow Airport and the Department for Transport, we have decided it is time to take the gloves off.

“The consequence of Heathrow’s veto and the flawed process run by the department for transport is that consumers and airlines are being saddled with its unnecessarily complex, noisy and expensive third runway which will take years to build.

“We hope the Competition & Markets Authority will inject some rigour and common sense into the process so that this vital piece of national infrastructure can be delivered quickly and cheaply while taking account of the important environmental impacts on local communities.”

Parliament is due to vote on Heathrow expansion in the summer and Heathrow Hub has already submitted a revised draft National Policy Statement to the department for transport, so its scheme can be implemented quickly.

The legal challenge comes as secretary Grayling called for costs to be limited during the expansion of Heathrow.