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Heathrow airlines 'won't use' Foster's hub

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Airline chief Willie Walsh has dealt a fresh blow to Foster + Partners’ plans for an airport in the Thames Estuary

Walsh, chief executive of British Airways’ parent company International Airlines Group, warned that airlines would not support a move to the £50 billion site on the Isle of Grain.

Foster + Partners and Halcrow revealed plans for the four-runway airport late last year.

Reports suggest some of the funding could be raised by landing charges on planes landing at Heathrow before the hub opens.

But Walsh, a vocal critic of the scheme when it was first unveiled, has told the architects not to expect funding from airlines currently operating at Heathrow.

He told the Financial Times: ‘The idea that airlines currently operating at Heathrow would fund the development of an airport they are not going to use, to the tune of £8 billion, is crazy.

‘If Foster has this plan, let him put this plan together without relying on the funding that is provided at Heathrow. The airlines operating at Heathrow have not committed to go to this new airport and won’t commit to going to this new airport. That is the bottom line.’

Norman Foster said on launching the plans: ‘We have to have the courage, political will, intelligence and common sense to invest now in our infrastructure. If we don’t, then we are denying future generations. So I do not believe we have a choice.

‘We need to recapture the foresight and political courage of our 19th Century forebears if we are to establish modern transport and energy infrastructure in Britain for this century and beyond.’

A government consultation on expanding airports in south-east England was delayed again last month and is now unlikely to go ahead until the autumn.

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