International Airlines Group has attacked Heathrow airport’s plans to make passengers stump up £3.3 billion in advanced costs for a third runway before planning permission is guaranteed.
In a submission to the Civil Aviation Authority, IAG argues it has absolutely no confidence in Heathrow’s ability to deliver cost-effective expansion.
Initial construction and planning costs, originally forecast at £915 million, have jumped by more than 250 per cent in two years.
And Heathrow continues to cover up the true cost of expansion, argues the airline group.
The airport says expansion will cost £14 billion.
Initially that covered both the runway and additional terminal and aircraft stand capacity.
However, its latest masterplan says that now only builds the runway.
The total cost is currently £32 billion.
Willie Walsh, IAG chief executive, said: “Advance costs are spiralling out of control and total expansion costs are being covered up. This latest development proves beyond doubt that Heathrow can’t be trusted.
“The airport’s chief executive thinks expansion is a ‘fait accompli’ but with judicial, environmental and political hurdles ahead, there’s no guarantee.
“Spending £3.3 billion before receiving planning permission is irresponsible and it’s completely unacceptable to expect passengers to pick up the tab.
“Heathrow’s on a massive gravy train and will do everything to protect that. We have absolutely no confidence in its ability to deliver cost-effective expansion.
“The total bill for expansion is already running at £32 billion and yet they are trying to deceive everyone by continuing to claim that it can be done for £14 billion.”
IAG’s submission urges the CAA to regulate Heathrow effectively and stop the airport from steamrolling through massive cost increases.
Walsh added: “Heathrow told the CAA that pre-planning permission costs were £915 million.
“They’ve now been ramped up to £3.3 billion.
“The airport is treating customers with contempt and the CAA like puppets.”
Last week transport secretary Grant Shapps said it was unclear whether the project to expand Heathrow “stacks up” financially.
The comments came amid doubts over whether the new prime minister would pursue the project that he has long voiced opposition to.
Boris Johnson vowed to lie down “in front of those bulldozers” to stop its construction when he was elected as the MP for South Uxbridge and Ruislip in 2015.
Parliament, however, last year overwhelmingly backed Theresa May’s government over building at the west London hub after years of wrangling over whether to opt for a second runway at Gatwick instead.