EasyJet has welcomed the UK Airports Commission’s recommendation to build a third runway at London Heathrow and plans to open a base if the west London airport is expanded.
The commission today provided its long-awaited recommendation for future UK airport capacity, identifying a third runway at Heathrow as its clear choice. A final decision, though, rests in the hands of the UK Government.
“Heathrow will provide the greatest passenger and economic benefits,” says the low-cost carrier’s chief executive Carolyn McCall. The proposed expansion will be in the “best interest of all passengers”, be it business or leisure travellers in both the long- and short-haul arena, she says.
EasyJet already serves four London airports - Luton, Stansted, Southend and its largest base, Gatwick - and McCall says it would open a base at Heathrow in addition to these operations if the Government gives the go-ahead for Heathrow expansion.
The Luton-headquartered airline has identified domestic and European routes from Heathrow. These would comprise services to Aberdeen, Belfast, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Jersey, the Isle of Man and Jersey, while international flights would cover cities such Amsterdam, Geneva and Zurich.
EasyJet submitted its interest in operating from an expanded Heathrow to the Aviation Commission’s report, and speaking during a press conference today, its chairman Howard Davies said EasyJet had outlined a plan to base 20 aircraft at Terminal 4 if a new runway where approved.
EasyJet has always been more willing than many of its low-cost peers to operate into the bigger primary airports, for example operating a string of service out of Paris Charles de Gaulle. But it - along with most other European low-cost operators - has not operated from Heathrow.
But McCall notes: "EasyJet's costs are significantly lower than legacy airlines so even allowing for an increase in charges at an expanded Heathrow, EasyJet's fares on these services would be lower than those paid by passengers today.”
Expansion at the airline’s largest base, Gatwick, is among the other options short-listed and judged credible by the Commission in its final report.