Photographer: Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg

London Heathrow Dangles Flights Sweetener as Runway Ruling Looms

  • 25,000 more services a year on offer under current setup
  • U.K. hub says new timetable would help economy during Brexit

London Heathrow airport said it could make room for 25,000 more flights a year in the run up to construction of a new runway, improving global links at a time when Britain is likely to be exiting the European Union.

The extra services would be added from 2021 until the opening of a third landing strip in 2025, providing a 1.5 billion-pound ($1.5 billion) boost to the U.K. economy, Heathrow Airport Ltd. said Thursday.

Growth would be achieved by lifting the cap on flights by 5 percent beyond the current limit of 480,000 a year, something that could be achieved without impacting operational resilience, environmental commitments or customer convenience, Heathrow said. Changes such as the separation of arriving aircraft by time instead of distance might also help add movements.

The new capacity could be reserved for U.K. domestic flights and long-haul services beyond the EU, the company said, adding that the plan is contingent on it being selected for expansion ahead of London Gatwick airport and would require the government to engage in public consultation on the extra flights.

Decision Imminent

Europe’s busiest hub is stepping up its pitch for a new runway with a much-delayed U.K. government decision on where to locate additional flight capacity for southern England likely to announced as early as next month.

Howard Davies, whose state-appointed commission recommended the expansion of Heathrow, has said June 23’s Brexit vote makes an extra runway even more vital if Britain is to open up new markets.

The new flight slots could be used for 21 more regional or short-haul services each day, together with 13 long-haul trips, Heathrow said.

The airport also proposed extending until 2037 a 10-pound discount for people flying out of Heathrow to other U.K. airports that’s due to start in January and will reduce the so-called domestic passenger charge to 19.59 pounds from 29.59 pounds.

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