IAG's Walsh resigned to lack of extra London hub capacity

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International Airlines Group chief executive Willie Walsh is resigned to a lack of political consensus that he believes will make additional London hub airport runway capacity unlikely to emerge for decades.

Having supported the previous UK Labour government's 2009 plan to add a third runway at London Heathrow, Walsh said he did not believe that the project will ever go ahead.

Walsh was responding to comments by London mayor Boris Johnson earlier this week that the current Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition's drawn-out timetable for evaluating options, such as building a new four-runway hub in the Thames estuary east of London, sets the UK on a course for "economic catastrophe".

"I don't think we're risking economic catastrophe," said Walsh, speaking on BBC political debate show Question Time. "I do genuinely believe that the future of the UK economy is being damaged as a result of the lack of hub capacity at Heathrow.

"But without question, in 20 years' time we will suffer as a result of it."

Walsh, who heads the parent company of British Airways and Iberia, added: "Quite honestly, my view is that we will never see another runway at Heathrow. We will never see [a Thames estuary airport].

"Nothing is going to happen, because there is no cross-party consensus to deal with this issue. I'll run my business at a two-runway Heathrow. I'll run it as best I can. I'll be very happy, and from my point of view we'll try to do what we can to maximise the benefits that exist for British Airways at Heathrow."

UK prime minister David Cameron has pledged to honour his party's manifesto commitment that there will be no decision on a third runway at Heathrow before the next general election - due to take place in 2015. However, senior members of his party have called for the policy to be reviewed.