February 28, 2020 / 11:14 AM / in a month

IAG CEO Walsh says chances of new Heathrow runway 'significantly reduced'

FILE PHOTO: Willie Walsh, CEO of International Airlines Group speaks during the closing press briefing at the 2016 International Air Transport Association (IATA) Annual General Meeting (AGM) and World Air Transport Summit in Dublin, Ireland June 3, 2016. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

LONDON (Reuters) - The chief executive of British Airways-owner IAG (ICAG.L) said that the building of a new runway at Heathrow Airport was “significantly reduced” by a court ruling on Thursday.

Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport, has been trying for years to expand but a court blocked the new runway plan on Thursday on environmental grounds.

“I believe the chances of a third runway being built are significantly reduced as a result of the decision yesterday,” Walsh told investors on a call.

“In effect, they’ve got to go back to square one and start again and even if they do I think the challenge on the environmental front is still significant.”

Walsh has long said Heathrow’s plan was too expensive and opposed any extra costs being levied on airlines to pay for the expansion.

IAG reported financial results earlier on Friday, warning that it could not provide an earnings forecast because of the coronavirus outbreak.

“If we were doing this last Friday, we would have given you guidance,” Walsh told the investors, explaining that at that time the situation in Asia had stabilised, giving the group some certainty on outlook.

But the outbreak in Italy over the last week has since caused “a big change”, making forecasting difficult.

Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Kate Holton

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