Heathrow could become a small business airport if the UK builds a new four-runway hub, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has claimed.
Heathrow’s owners would require compensation of around €17.5 billion, if regulators forced the airport to wind down, the Mayor’s aviation adviser, Daniel Moylan, added.
However, this cost could be mitigated by developing the Heathrow site, as well as running a smaller airport, the pair told MPs at the UK Transport Select Committee.
Questioned on what would happen to Heathrow if a new hub was built, Johnson said: “Would Heathrow close? I don’t think Heathrow will continue as it is.
“It might have a great future as a business airport. It will be much smaller than 70 million passengers.
“Heathrow could not be a rival hub, but it could be used by all these plutocrats in their jets. You could imagine that kind of thing continuing to happen.
“But you would have all the development potential of that incredible site. Any jobs lost at Heathrow would be readily found again in the developments that would arise there.”
Johnson, who said Heathrow could be like a "London City West Airport", added that he could envisage a "tech city" on the Heathrow site.
The cost of compensation to Heathrow’s owners had been factored into the over all bill for a new hub airport – between €80 billion to €90 billion – Moylan told the committee.
The Mayor, who supports the building of a new airport in the UK, added that the UK would need a six-runway hub by 2050.
He said that although public sector money was needed for a new hub, he said the airport would pay for itself over time.
He added: “The real cost would be not doing it [building a new airport]. That would be a catastrophic mistake.”