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Scrap third runway over M25, urges hotel tycoon

Heathrow

A major hotel group has teamed up with Bechtel to produce alternative Heathrow expansion plans, which it says could be £6.7bn cheaper than Heathrow’s own proposals.

The Arora Group, a leading chain which owns more than 57 properties at Heathrow Airport, commissioned Bechtel and other infrastructure experts to carry out a review of Heathrow’s expansion plans.

Bechtel said the review looked at “how the proposed expansion could be improved to be more efficient, affordable, and deliverable.” It was submitted to the government in its recent public consultation on expansion, which closed on 25 May.

The Arora Group says it could offer a 38% reduction on current project cost forecasts partly by making changes to the runway. Heathrow has suggested it would raise the 3,500m runway over the M25, which it would move to the west and lower.

But the Arora Group’s proposals put forward an alternative plan to reduce the length of the third runway to 3,200m and move it 500m to the east – avoiding disruption to the M25 and saving £1.5bn. The Airports Commission has previously rejected plans for a shorter runway as it would increase noise levels for local residents.

The review also suggested a £1.1bn saving could be made by not expanding Terminal 2, which it says is unnecessary, while it could slash £1.7bn from the new terminal design and taxiway plans. In total the hotel group says it could save 38% on Heathrow’s £17bn expansion costs.

The Arora Group said it wanted the plans to push government to “challenge the current monopoly status at Heathrow”.

“Heathrow needs competition and innovation which puts passengers and airlines at the heart of the expansion project,” said Arora chairman and founder Surinder Arora.

“We are now calling on the Government to consider more carefully how competition can improve Heathrow’s offer to passengers, and how airlines at the heart of these plans will benefit passengers. We look forward to working with the new Government to discuss these issues and how our proposals can help improve the airport’s expansion.”

Heathrow stressed that its expansion proposals are supported by the government.

“We continue to develop our plans to improve passenger experience, reduce the impact on local communities, and lower the cost so we deliver expansion at close to current charges,” said a spokesperson for Heathrow.

Meanwhile Sir Howard Davis, chair of the Airports Commission which backed the third runway at Heathrow, has called for a congestion charge of £10-£15 to be put in place to cut pollution around the airport.

Speaking to the Evening Standard, Davis said: “When we looked at this, congestion charging to the airport was something that people regarded as pretty extreme.

“But I think now, the congestion charge is hardly controversial in London any more.”

Heathrow Airport has been contacted for comment.

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