Heathrow has hit back against its rival Gatwick by upgrading its profit forecast and predicting that an extra 300,000 passengers will pass through its terminals this year.
Both airports are hoping to get the backing of Sir Howard Davies’ Airports Commission, which is expected to publish its final report next week and recommend one of three options: build a new runway at Heathrow; expand one of the existing two there; or build a second runway at Gatwick.
On Thursday the chief executive of Gatwick, Stewart Wingate, warned that approval for Heathrow would be a “retrograde step” and “politically undeliverable” because of bitter opposition from senior ministers with constituencies under the flight path.
He said: “We’re expecting that Davies, rather than making the same mistake as in the past, which saw a report gathering dust, will choose the only deliverable option.”
In response, Heathrow said yesterday that a busy start to the year was likely to boost its earning by about £40m in 2015, with traffic forecasts up to 74.2 million passengers.
“Heathrow’s capital expenditure is expected to be around £700m in 2015,” it added in a statement.
The investment programme includes an integrated baggage facility at Terminal 3, improvements such as parallel loading security lanes for passengers, a new 800-space business car park for Terminal 5, and refurbishment of retail space.
Gatwick is also expected to grow again this year with passenger numbers likely to pass 40 million.
The airport invested £181m on modernising its infrastructure last year.
Flight delays: Air traffic apology
The boss of air traffic control company Nats has repeated his apology for a systems failure that hit London’s airports in December. Problems at its national centre in Swanwick, Hampshire, saw dozens of flights cancelled and delayed.
“We have not lost sight of the technical failure… on behalf of Nats, I apologise again for the inconvenience caused to passengers and our customers,” said Martin Rolfe, as Nats profits rose from £157.5m to £200m in the year ending 31 March.