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July/August 2017
For Business, Corporate Travel & Meeting Buyers & Arrangers

Heathrow landowner drafts ‘cheaper’ third runway plan

One of the largest landowners at Heathrow has put forward rival proposals for a new terminal and runway at Britain’s busiest airport.

The Arora Group, which counts the Sofitel T5 as part of its property portfolio, claims the new plans will save up to £6.7 billion compared with Heathrow Airport Limited’s (HAL’s) own £17.5 billion proposal.

In October last year the government backed HAL’s plans, although little action has been taken since the decision.

Arora’s plans include a £1.7 billion saving to the terminal design and taxi way system, the scrapping of Terminal 2 expansion and a passenger transit system saving £2.1 billion. It also wants to avoid the “costly” M25 construction project by bridging a spur of the M4 instead.

The scheme has already received backing from British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. “The government should look closely at Arora’s proposal as it would significantly reduce costs,” Willie Walsh, CEO of BA’s parent, IAG, told The Sunday Times. Craig Kreeger also told the paper: “This once-in-a-generation project is an opportunity to challenge the status quo… nobody has a monopoly on good ideas.”

Arora’s proposals have been submitted to the Department of Transport in its recent consultation on the expansion plans, having commissioned a team of infrastructure and aviation experts including construction giant Bechtel.

Arora's chairman and founder, Surinder Arora, said: “We want passengers to be at the heart of our plans and the current monopoly at Heathrow, which over-charges airlines and in turn raises fares for passengers, is not the right model for the future. Heathrow needs competition and innovation which puts passengers and airlines at the heart of the expansion project.

“We are now calling on the government to consider more carefully how competition can improve Heathrow's offer to passengers, and how airlines at the heart of these plans will benefit passengers. We look forward to working with the new government to discuss these issues and how our proposals can help improve the airport's expansion.”

He added: “We appreciate this is a politically sensitive issue but it is merely an option with additional savings of £1.5bn, whereas the rest of our proposals save up to £5.2bn without the need to amend the runway location.”

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