Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said that plans to appoint engineering and design firms in January to help build the third runway were still on. He dismissed an earlier threat issued by International Airlines Group (IAG), the parent company of British Airways (BA).

The Threat

Shortly after the government announced a further six-month delay on the decision to expand the Heathrow airport, IAG warned that it would move BA's operations out of the UK to other markets such as Dublin or Madrid, if the plan is approved by the government.

IAG chief executive Willie Walsh had explained that the £17.6bn (€24.4bn, $26.8bn) plan to expand Heathrow would double charges for passengers flying in and out of UK's busiest airport and would "turn Heathrow into a white elephant" forcing passengers out of the airport.

"We won't pay for it and we most certainly won't pre-fund the construction of any new infrastructure. Why should IAG's customers pay today for tomorrow's customers? Some people may say that we have no other option. Actually we do." Walsh had said.

The Dismissal

Holland-Kaye dismissed this threat by Walsh and said "I'd be amazed if BA were to leave Heathrow. It's not going to happen, but I completely take the point that we need to deliver this efficiently, and we will do. Of course they don't want to pay more than they have to. We agree with that", according to The Telegraph.

To Walsh's comment that BA could move to Madrid or Dublin, Holland-Kaye said "I think the point he was trying to make was that they have other options. As a group they're a big international business now; they've got bases in other airports so they've got more choices than would have had 10 years ago."

Gatwick or Heathrow

Though the government had announced on 10 December that it would examine the impact of air pollution of a third runway in Heathrow and would also consider opening the additional runway in Gatwick instead, Holland-Kaye said that he was "confident" that Heathrow would be the chosen one.