Heathrow chief rallies for expansion as passenger numbers soar

Heathrow chief rallies for expansion as passenger numbers soar

Heathrow Airport boss John Holland-Kaye has insisted that expansion at the west London hub is the "right choice" ahead of a long-awaited government decision.

Holland-Kaye’s rallying call comes as the airport reported rising revenues, earnings and pre-tax profits for the nine months to 30 September as well as record passenger numbers.

He said in the airports most recent trading update that Prime Minister Theresa May is "showing leadership", despite being accused of kicking the can even further down the road than her predecessor, David Cameron.

He said: "The Prime Minister is showing leadership and will decide on the critical national issue of Heathrow expansion in the next few days.

"Heathrow is the right choice to help make Britain stronger and fairer for everyone - that's why there is such broad support across the UK, from Newquay to Inverness, for our plans - and we stand ready to deliver the runway that will keep Britain a confident, outward-looking trading nation as soon as we get the green light from Government."

The long-awaited decision on whether to go ahead with a third runway at Heathrow or to expand at Gatwick is set to be revealed later this month.

But May has signalled that the "formal process" would need further consultation before an eventual vote by MPs, which could see the saga drag on further.

Results for the first nine months of 2016 show that Heathrow slumped to a £293m loss after it was stung by exceptional items. This compares with a £552m profit in the same period last year.

Stripping out exceptional items, pre-tax profit increased 11% to £202m. Revenue rose 1.3% to £2.1bn.

Heathrow added that a record 57.3 million passengers used the airport during the period, up 0.7%.

The Davies Commission recommended a third runway at Heathrow, but May stressed that the other two options in the report - expanding Gatwick or lengthening an existing runway at Heathrow - were "credible and deliverable."