Plans to expand Heathrow by creation of a third runway could be delayed by up to three years, the airport has confirmed.
Heathrow says the CAA’s consultation on pre-expansion “early Category C costs” would delay its expansion timetable “by at least 12 months”.
The airport had hoped to have the new runway operational by 2026, but now expects to complete the work “between early 2028 and late 2029”.
It comes after the CAA rejected Heathrow’s call to nearly quadruple spending on the project from £650 million to upwards of £2.4 billion before it has even gained planning permission for expansion.
The regulator’s concern is that id costs soar and Heathrow is subsequently denied permission to pursue expansion, passengers could end up footing the bill.
Heathrow has said it will seek to “unlock” an initial £1.5 billion to £2 billion private investment to progress its plans.
“The CAA’s announcement is an important milestone in expanding Heathrow and connecting all of Britain to global growth,” said Heathrow.
“It increases certainty for our local communities and for the job creation, increased trade and lower airfares that expansion delivers. We will now review the detail to ensure it will unlock the initial £1.5-£2 billion private investment over the next two years at no cost to the taxpayer.
“While this is a step forward, the CAA has delayed the project timetable by at least 12 months. We now expect to complete the third runway between early 2028 and late 2029.”
Paul Smith, CAA group director consumers and markets, said while the CAA was broadly supportive of expansion at Heathrow, passengers could not be expected to “bear the risk of Heathrow Airport Limited spending too much in the early phases of development, should planning permission not be granted”.
Airport expansion was a notable absence from Thursday’s Queen’s speech. Prime minister Boris Johnson has long been opposed to expansion at Heathrow, him being MP for neighbouring Uxbridge and South Ruislip.
He missed last year’s key vote on whether the government should back expansion at Heathrow or Gatwick, choosing instead to visit Afghanistan as part of his then ministerial duties.