Rival £14bn Heathrow expansion draws criticism from airport bosses

A rival bid for Heathrow’s expansion has been revealed with calls to end the “monopoly” over the project and promises that its £14bn proposal would provide passengers with greater value for money and deliver extra capacity.

The Arora Group says its plans for expansion will cost £14.4bn with the bid concentrating on new terminal capacity on the western side of Heathrow, between the existing Terminal 5 and the M25, rather than redeveloping existing terminals 2 and 3. However, the plans have been criticised by airport bosses for showing a lack of understanding of airport operations and disregarding local residents.

Instead of new, independent terminal buildings, the Western Hub integrates new passenger facilities with T5 into a single hub campus. At the heart is a new central concourse, which will serve as a single front door for all 85 million passengers using the Western Hub.

The competing standout scheme, from the existing airport company (Heathrow Airport Limited), was recently costed at more than twice that by the Airports Commission at £31bn - which did however include operational costs. Arora disputes HAL’s original figure of £14bn after saying Heathrow had not been transparent about how it came to the total.

Arora is run by Surinder Arora, who owns several hotels and other property near Heathrow. The terminal design is part of Mr Arora's wider push to build an expanded airport.

The founder of the Arora Group, said: “Our approach has been to work closely with airlines and to employ the world’s best and most experienced airport designers and these benefits are clearly evident in our Western Hub plans. Heathrow has been in monopoly control for too long and our proposals show what can be achieved through an alternative approach and Heathrow fully welcoming competition.”

In recent days, HAL said it would allow companies to bid to partner with it on various parts of the expansion scheme. But Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye has responded to Arora’s plan and hit back for the company’s “complete lack of understanding of airport operations”.

Holland-Kaye added: “We welcome the fact that the Arora Group support a northwest runway at Heathrow, but we’re bemused that they have chosen now to release new plans which look a bit like the emperor’s new clothes - the more you look, the less there is to see. Not only do their proposals now cost more, but they show a complete lack of understanding of airport operations and disregard for those living closest to the airport. If these were serious plans, they should have been submitted for public scrutiny to the independent Airports Commission years ago, along with 50 other competitive proposals. The fact that Mr Arora didn’t do so then, makes you question his motives now.”

This year is set to be a vital year for Heathrow expansion plans with the government due to publish final proposals for a third runway and MPs having to subsequently vote.

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