Whatever the nature of our final relationship with the EU, Britain can prosper - Heathrow CEO

Posted On: 
29th January 2019

Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye writes that Britain is a nation that has all the right ingredients to make a success of Brexit, with over 30 airlines waiting to fly from an expanded Heathrow and shareholders are ready to up their investment over the next decade.

Britain’s prosperity depends on its success in exporting products and services to every corner of the globe, alongside its ability to attract visitors, businesses and investors back to these shores. 

That is why Heathrow is such a critical national asset. As the UK’s only hub airport, we connect people and goods from every part of the country to every global market. With expansion, we will be the best-connected airport in the world and Britain will be the best place in the world to do business.
  
In these times of political and economic uncertainty, some businesses are choosing to hold back on investment to mitigate risk and reduce exposure to unforeseen events. 

But we take precisely the opposite approach. Now is the time to invest, to secure our future as an outward looking trading nation and to create skilled jobs both while we build and when we have built.  

That is why we are increasing our investment and getting on with delivering expansion – the biggest privately funded infrastructure project ever undertaken in this country. 

With over 30 airlines waiting to fly from an expanded Heathrow and thousands of exporters across the UK champing at the bit for increased connectivity, Heathrow’s shareholders are ready to up their investment over the next decade, with £14bn ear marked for the new runway and further investment to keep Heathrow as a world class airport.  

That’s because they see a Britain that has a brighter future. A nation that has all the right ingredients to make a success of Brexit.

Infrastructure investment is by definition long term, and you have to be prepared to invest through the business cycle. And it wouldn’t be the first time Heathrow has successfully delivered large-scale infrastructure projects during turbulent times. 

We spent a decade rebuilding Heathrow, with a new lay out, and new terminals 2 and 5. Half way through, we were hit with the worst global financial crisis in modern history. With credit markets closed, shareholders put in an additional £1 billion of equity, and took no dividends for many years.  

Now Britain has a world class airport that we can all be proud of and investors are finally earning a return.  

And it helps that we are a well-run, well-funded business with strong cashflows and a global reputation.  

Last year alone, the airport raised almost £2.0bn to build financial resilience against whatever uncertainties we might face, and to ensure that we can deliver on the promise of expansion. 

There are thousands of businesses - and hundreds of thousands of jobs - that are dependent on us doing what we’ve promised to do: increase domestic routes, open-up new routes to untapped markets around the world, so they can sell their goods and services.  

Last week, I was in Davos, where I was invited to speak on how Heathrow is becoming a world leader in sustainability, including reducing carbon emissions from aviation. Heathrow’s expansion plans are focussed on growing responsibly, and in a way that benefits all the nations and regions of the UK, not just London and the South-East.

Heathrow has always played a vital role in the country’s growth and prosperity - and we always will.  So whatever the nature of our final relationship with the EU, Britain can prosper.