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Rival Heathrow bidder launches expansion consultation

Arora terminal

The Arora Group has launched the first stage of consultation on its proposals to develop Heathrow Airport.

The group is inviting feedback from the local community, residents, businesses, local interest groups, and other stakeholders, on its rival proposal to expansion plans by Heathrow Airport Ltd (HAL).

The consultation is set to last for eight weeks. Responses will be accepted until June 25 at midnight. Following the consultation, Arora will produce an interim report to be submitted alongside its development consent order (DCO) application to expand the airport.

Arora has already submitted a 400-page scoping document to the Planning Inspectorate outlining its plans to expand Heathrow. It claims it can increase capacity to 130M passengers per year for £14.4bn compared to the £31bn HAL proposes to spend. Arora will focus on adding new terminal capacity west of the airport between Terminal 5 and the M25, avoiding the need to redevelop existing terminals.

The transport secretary will ultimately decide whether or not Arora Group is granted the DCO for the expansion programme.

Upon the launch of the consultation, Arora Group founder and chairman Surinder Arora said: “Our proposals fit within the government’s preferred Northwest Runway Scheme and show how the additional terminal capacity can be implemented more efficiently and effectively. We are focusing on the terminal as it is the area where we can add most value, based on our core hospitality and service expertise.

“We are therefore not including the Northwest Runway itself, or major works associated with the M25 as part of our proposals, but we will ensure that our proposals integrate seamlessly with these components of Heathrow Airport Limited’s plans. Under our proposals, these parts of expansion would therefore be applied for and delivered by Heathrow Airport Limited. This approach is specifically provided for within the Government’s Airports National Policy Statement.”

HAL is the current operator of Heathrow Airport, but the Government’s Airports National Policy Statement allows for there to be more than one party responsible for promoting the development required to deliver expansion at Heathrow Airport.

In its consultation summary document, Arora explained: “We believe in competition. Competition is what drives innovation, success and the best outcome for the consumer, the local community and other stakeholders. Having more than one operator of the terminals at Heathrow Airport will enable competition and choice, providing the opportunity for better terminals and a higher quality of service for airlines and passengers.

“It is our preference to work in a coordinated and collaborative manner with Heathrow Airport Limited to deliver the best quality solution for airport expansion and for delivery on time. We have worked closely with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to ensure that competition at Heathrow can be delivered from a regulatory perspective.”

Earlier this week HAL rubbished claims that Heathrow expansion would lack of competition.

Arora has before raised concerns about HAL’s existing “monopoly position in relation to the provision of airport operation services and related services at Heathrow Airport” and about the “undesirability of Heathrow expansion exacerbating the anti-competitive effects of that monopoly and leading to increased costs to both airlines and consumers”.

The House of Commons voted in favour of building the third runway at the airport, approving transport secretary Chris Grayling National Policy Statement by 415 votes to 119, in June last year.

Earlier this week, High Court judges rejected a legal challenge mounted against Heathrow Airport’s expansion plan, following a judicial review of the government’s National Policy Statement.

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