Heathrow chief Colin Matthews to leave before runway expansion battle is resolved


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The Independent Online

The chief executive of Heathrow airport announced yesterday that he is to step down later this year. Colin Matthews, who has been chief executive of Europe's busiest airport for six years, said he would remain in post until its new Terminal 2, the Queen's Terminal, opens in June.

"With a strong leadership team, the company continues to raise standards of passenger service, improve efficiency and reduce costs," Mr Matthews said.

Heathrow's chairman, Sir Nigel Rudd, added: "Colin has done a fantastic job… and will remain as chief executive until his successor is in place to ensure a smooth transition."

The operator also said yesterday that it would not appeal a decision by the Civil Aviation Authority regulator to impose a cap on the prices it charges airlines, adding it did not believe other parties would appeal the ruling either. The CAA has ordered Heathrow to set its charges 1.5 per cent below inflation from this month, after ruling that Heathrow has excessive market power.

Mr Matthews will leave Heathrow at full capacity and with a struggle over expansion still ongoing. A government appointed commission, headed by Sir Howard Davies, is examining the case for an additional runway; his final report is due to be delivered by the summer of next year.

Mr Matthews, 57, is a former executive at British Airways and Severn Trent. He joined Heathrow in March 2008, when Terminal 5 opened. He is credited with restoring the airport's reputation and increasing customer satisfaction.