2nd December 2003
STOP STANSTED EXPANSION RESPONSE TO SECOND RUNWAY RUMOURS
British Airways, Virgin and British Midland have all announced their readiness to mount a legal challenge if the government were to recommend an extra runway at Stansted because this would not be commercially viable unless cross-subsidised by Heathrow and Gatwick users – meaning in practice that the Heathrow-based airlines would be asked to pay for new facilities for their low-cost competitors operating out of Stansted.
Budget airline Ryanair, meanwhile, has ruled out the idea of paying for the development of a second runway at Stansted through increased airport charges there because this would undermine its low cost business model.
“Stansted is a dead duck, whatever the White Paper sets out,” commented SSE Chairman Norman Mead. “It is developers not governments who build runways. Ultimately, BAA could only proceed at Stansted if there were no legal or regulatory barriers, if there was clear market demand and if the project was sustainable, commercially viable and could be financed. It is increasingly obvious that Stansted cannot meet these criteria.”
SSE say that the inclusion of Stansted in the White Paper would not be entirely unexpected but will ultimately prove meaningless. Considerable work has been carried out by SSE’s legal team, under Geoffrey Lewis, on contingency plans for a series of legal and regulatory challenges. Further avenues for challenge are expected to emerge when the detail of the government’s White Paper policy document has been examined.
“The scope for challenge is immense and wide-ranging such that the chances of a second Stansted runway actually being built are remote,” added Norman Mead. “An endless succession of legal and regulatory challenges will ultimately convince BAA that a second Stansted runway is undeliverable,” he concluded.