Third Heathrow runway could benefit Irish regional airports

Extra capacity at Heathrow could open prospect of Irish airports getting more slots at the London hub

Heathrow’s third runway could benefit Irish regional airports and is unlikely to threaten Dublin’s continued development as a transatlantic hub, according to a number of industry figures.

The British government is backing Heathrow to build a third runway to provide the UK capital and England’s southeast with extra airport capacity in a move that has sparked opposition from the public and within the ranks of the country’s ruling conservative party.

According to Neil Pakey, former chief executive of State-owned Shannon Group and now chairman of the UK-based Regional and Business Airports group, extra capacity at Heathrow could open the prospect of Irish airports getting more slots at the London hub, including regional gateways such as his former employer.

“If the runway goes ahead that is better news for Irish airports because they will be able to expand existing services to Heathrow and that means that they will have the chance to increase connectivity.”


Heathrow is one of the world’s busiest hubs and handles more than 70 million passengers a year. About 80 airlines fly from there to 185 destinations. Guaranteeing Aer Lingus’s landing rights at the airport was a key issue when the government was considering the sale of its stake in the carrier to International Consolidated Airlines’ Group (IAG) last year.


Shortly after IAG published its results on Friday, the group’s chief executive,

Willie Walsh

, agreed that the British government’s decision meant that there was a “60-40” chance that the new runway would be built. “The odds certainly have improved,” he said.

However, he pointed out that the airport’s management had to show that it could build the runway without increasing passenger charges and that it could manage the environmental impact.

Dublin airport is positioning itself as a transatlantic hub offering travellers connections between Europe and North America. Its owner, State-company DAA, has not commented on the Heathrow plans, but it is understood that it does not regard them as a threat to its strategy as it is continuing to draw transatlantic business from Europe and regional airports in Britain.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas