Easyjet chief executive Carolyn McCall has said there is no “economic reason” to build a second runway at Gatwick airport as she renews support for an extra runway at Heathrow.
Despite the airline being Gatwick’s largest customer, McCall said the funding needed to expand Gatwick would hit passengers with a “very onerous” increase in charges “from the word go”.
Speaking to The Times McCall said the West Sussex airport had “never proved it can really be the kind of airport that Heathrow is”.
Her comments come as a report from the Airports Commission into airport expansion in the south east is due to be released in the next couple of weeks – The three options are: a new runway at Heathrow, a new runway at Gatwick and extending one of the two existing runways at Heathrow.
“Heathrow has got people queuing up to get in,” McCall said. “It costs £25 million for one slot at Heathrow. We bought 20 slot pairs at Gatwick for £20 million.
“The airline demand is for Heathrow because you get the yields from passengers at Heathrow; you get the hub effect. It’s a very economic reason why we don’t need an extra runway to go into Gatwick.”
A spokesman for Gatwick said: “We have always maintained that Easyjet’s position is based on its own narrow commercial interests.
“Heathrow is already the most expensive airport in Europe and expansion there can only drive up costs for airlines and passengers even further, deterring low-cost carriers from operating at Heathrow in the future, just as it has for the past 25 years since the low-cost revolution got under way.”
Earlier this year, Easyjet came out in support of expanding Heathrow saying it was in the “best interests of passengers”.
McCall won a Lifetime Achievement award at this year’s Business Travel Awards.