100,000 jobs at risk, as London 'can't have two hubs'
HEATHROW bosses have declared war on the new London airport planned by the government for the Thames Estuary.
Arguing that London "can't have two hubs", Heathrow's chief said that building a new £50 billion island base would have dire knock-on effects for the west London airport, leading to its closure.
"The consequences of closing Heathrow wouldn't just be big for my company," said Colin Matthews, boss of BAA, which runs Heathrow.
"It would be big for 100,000 jobs in this part of London. It's a huge issue economically, a huge issue politically."
Matthews was speaking in response to news stories which suggest the government is to give the thumbs-up to the estuary airport*, with official planning due to start this March.
"The Government is increasingly interested in this idea," confirmed London Mayor Boris Johnson, a long-time champion of the island airport plan .
"They see the overwhelming aviation argument and the argument from international competitiveness in making sure that Britain has a hub airport that is viable for the long-term future."
Matthews favours a third runway at Heathrow to solve the "international competitiveness" problem, an option ruled out by the current government, but supported by the last.
Johnson's two main London Mayoral election rivals - Ken Livingstone and Brian Paddick - are against both the Thames estuary plan and a third runway at Heathrow. The two schemes are also opposed by environmental campaigners and local residents.
* Our picture is an artist's impression of the Thames estuary airport as envisioned by architect Norman Foster. Other plans exist for the island scheme.