Heathrow pleads for a third runway as it faces losing the top spot to Dubai


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The Independent Online

Heathrow bosses yesterday conceded that it will soon lose its title of the world’s number one airport after its international flier numbers fell behind Dubai ’s.

Colin Matthews, chief executive, who last week announced his own take-off plans, warned that Dubai airport’s higher traffic in January and February was the start of Heathrow’s “decline” if it is not allowed a third runway.

London has had the world’s busiest port or airport for 350 years, but Dubai flew more than 12 million international passengers in the first two months of the year, against  10 million at Heathrow.  The latter  is operating at full capacity and can only increase passenger numbers when airlines use larger, fuller planes.

Heathrow saw 5.8 million passengers pass through its departure and arrival halls in March, down 2.8 per cent on the same month a year earlier.

Mr Matthews, departing from Heathrow in June, said: “We want Britain to continue to compete globally against the best hub airports in the world, but without a third runway, Heathrow’s comparative decline will make the whole of the UK  less attractive to do business.”

Dubai is forecast have 103.5 million passengers a year by 2020. Last year Heathrow had 72 million.