Virgin Atlantic has welcomed renewed political discussion of options for expanding airport capacity in the southeast despite dismissing talk of a new airport in the Thames estuary as “bonkers”.
Julie Southern, Virgin Atlantic chief commercial officer, said: “On one level, a Thames estuary airport would be an attractive idea, if it had all the infrastructure and connections it needed.
“But building the airport would be the easy bit. Connecting it to all the networks would be a completely different story.”
Southern (pictured) said an estuary airport would also mean the closure of Heathrow. She said: “It would have to be a new hub airport because you can’t have two hubs.
“If the government thinks it is politically difficult to expand Heathrow, wait till they try building a Thames estuary airport, with all the jobs lost at Heathrow and all the businesses threatened around Heathrow. It’s a bonkers solution because it can’t be a solution.”
The government has promised to publish a list of options for airport expansion this summer to be followed by a public consultation.
Southern told Travel Weekly she would welcome the revival of a third runway at Heathrow as one option.
She said: “It is a good thing to look at all the solutions, including a third runway at Heathrow. When the government does that, discussion could come back to a third runway.”
The coalition government ruled out a new runway at Heathrow in May 2010. A ban on expansion at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted remains part of the government’s coalition agreement.