Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group (IAG), has accused Heathrow of "ripping off" passengers amid new runway plans, which he said could cost about £17.6bn (€22.97bn, $26.04bn). He said such a move would result in passengers paying £80 towards landing charges per return trip, which is double the present charge of £40.

The CEO of the British Airways parent said this could be avoided by instead doubling the length of Heathrow's existing northern runway. He claimed this would not only serve the same purpose as a new third runway, in creating extra capacity, but would also save billions of pounds in cost, thus reducing the charge on passengers.

Addressing Abta, the travel association, in central London, Walsh said this was the only way to create additional capacity at the airport without increasing costs for passengers, according to The Times.

Walsh added that the "exorbitant" cost of the new third runway would also affect airlines. "Project costs are critical not only to keeping ticket prices competitive but also to ensuring that it is viable for airlines to operate the full range of domestic and other short-haul services," he explained, before adding that airlines may stop many of their routes as they would stop being profitable.

He went on to attack the airport by saying that passengers "....cannot trust Heathrow to deliver anything in a cost-effective manner". He also claimed that customers had been "ripped off by Heathrow for years and leopards don't change their spots".

This is not the first time Walsh or IAG have spoken out against Heathrow's expansion plans. In December 2015, IAG-owned British Airways had threatened to end its operations at Heathrow if the government decided to go ahead with a third runway, adding that it would move its operations to Dublin or Madrid.