All 3 of the world’s airline alliances – Oneworld, SkyTeam and the Star Alliance – have backed Heathrow as part of the Davies Commission into UK airport capacity.
The fact that Oneworld has expressed its support for Heathrow is no real surprise as British Airways, one of its founding members, holds nearly 50% of available slots at the west London airport. British Airways, and in particular Willie Walsh, have been long and vociferous supporters of a third runway at Heathrow and Oneworld has simply made it clear that it shares this opinion.
Both SkyTeam and the Star Alliance have much less of a vested interest in Heathrow but both have come out strongly in its support.
With the opening of Heathrow’s new Terminal 2 next year, the Star Alliance will pretty much have Terminal 2 to itself while Sky Team will see all its members moved to Terminal 4. With its partners all in the same terminal, both alliances feel that, for the first time, they will be able to offer passengers a seamless service and thus allow them to compete with British Airways.
To this end, a statement from the Star Alliance read: “This will allow us to effectively compete with the other alliances in Heathrow and add to the quality of our services and therefore we do not see any opportunity for us to make a change to another airport”. At the same time, SkyTeam simply commented that “relocating to another London or UK airport is not an option for our members.”
With the Davies Commission now have completed the process of accepting submissions and comments from all interested parties, it won’t be until 2015, after the next General Election, that a final decision is made. However, where once it seemed that any expansion at Heathrow was dead and buried, the momentum now seems to be with the incumbent and it just needs to be seen whether the politicians are prepared to make some very difficult decisions.