Heathrow expansion no reason for fare hikes - Grayling


Passengers will not face massive hikes in fares as a result of the cost of building a new runway at Heathrow, Chris Grayling has promised.

The Transport Secretary insisted that the aviation watchdog would make sure travellers will not be badly hit as a result of the estimated £14 billion plan.

Defending the Government's support for the project, Mr Grayling insisted that officials and ministers had thoroughly "kicked the tyres" of the plan and it had not been a "five-nil" victory for a third runway at Heathrow over rival expansion plans.

The Department for Transport is due to publish final proposals in the first half of the year for a vote in Parliament.

Chris Grayling giving evidence to MPs (parliamentlive.tv)
Chris Grayling giving evidence to MPs (parliamentlive.tv)

The third runway was due to cost about £16.8 billion, but Heathrow claims it can complete the project for £14 billion.

Airlines have expressed concerns that landing charges could be hiked to help pay for the investment, with fares increasing to cover the cost.

Mr Grayling told the Commons Transport Committee there was "no reason for a material change to landing charges" and the Civil Aviation Authority would be able to "ensure this scheme is delivered in a way that doesn't hike up costs to passengers massively".

"I am very clear that we need a watchdog with teeth to ensure that this project doesn't end up leading to big hikes for passengers," Mr Grayling told the MPs.

The Transport Secretary acknowledged that the process which saw the third runway emerge as the favoured option over an extended existing runway at Heathrow or the expansion of Gatwick could still face a legal challenge.

Mr Grayling said the process had required public consultation, parliamentary scrutiny and a vote, and he hoped it would be seen as "sufficiently robust".

"That doesn't mean it won't end up in court and we have worked exhaustively to try to cover all bases," he said.