UK airport Heathrow concedes defeat to ever-growing Dubai
London's Heathrow Airport, the world’s busiest international passenger air hub, has raised the white flag and admitted it won’t be able to stop Dubai from stealing its crown.
A senior executive for the British Airports Authority (BAA), which operates Heathrow, has told 7DAYS that Britain’s main airport - currently the subject of a fierce political row over whether to allow it to add a third runway - is powerless to match Dubai’s growth.
That’s even if it does get the thumbs up to expand.
In fact, BAA director of media and public relations Simon Baugh says that rather than going head-to-head with Dubai for global spoils, Heathrow faces a battle even to remain Europe’s most used airport.
Put simply, Baugh said, Heathrow “can’t compete” with Dubai.
“Even with a third runway, with the space Dubai has it’s not possible. Its growth is too big,” he said.
Heathrow served a record 69.5 million passengers last year, to Dubai International Airport’s 50 million, but airport bosses in the emirate have said they expect to overhaul their British rival by 2016.
Baugh said Heathrow’s main competition now is with Paris and Amsterdam. The Heathrow man had words of praise for the airport that’s set to snatch the London hub’s crown.
“Dubai’s a passenger transfer hub where the world connects,” Baugh said. According to BAA, capacity constrains at Heathrow could cost the UK economy as much as £1.2 billion ($1.9 billion) a year in lost trade.
Baugh explained: “Paris has 1,000 more flights [than Heathrow] per year to the three main destinations in China - that has to be a worry for the UK.”
Heathrow’s PR guru admitted it will struggle to grow “unless the UK government policy changes towards it as an airport hub.”
Britain’s coalition government is currently against the building of a third runway that would boost capacity at Heathrow - though recent reports have suggested Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party could stage a U-turn.
Dubai has few such worries - being forecast to welcome 90 million flyers a year by 2020. Dubai International Airport will mark the opening of Concourse 3, the world’s first terminal dedicated to double-decker Airbus A380 aircraft, later this year.
By 2027, the emirate expects Al Maktoum International Airport in Jebel Ali to be the world’s largest passenger and cargo hub.