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Sun 29 Jul 2012 12:08 PM

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UK must "clarify" aviation policy - Etihad CEO

James Hogan claims Heathrow Airport "maxed out"; airlines could be forced to land elsewhere

UK must "clarify" aviation policy - Etihad CEO
James Hogan, CEO, Etihad Airways.

James Hogan, CEO of Etihad Airways, has said that airlines in the Middle East and China could be forced to land at rival airports in Europe or the US if the UK does not clarify its aviation policy.

Hogan said Heathrow Airport is “maxed out” and urged ministers to make a decision over airport infrastructure, warning the Abu Dhabi-based carrier is making choices now over where to send its aircraft in 20 years' time.

His comments follow weeks after ministers postponed a consultation on airport capacity for the second time this year.

“The problem with Heathrow is it is just about maxed out. Having a competitive hub is very important,” Hogan told The Telegraph.

“What is important for airlines is to have clarity on airport infrastructure because that determines your acquisition strategy of aircraft and how you build your network over time.

“We have a network plan that goes 20 years ahead,” he added. 

Hogan said a link between Heathrow and Gatwick airports would not work as airlines only want to operate “over a single hub”.

“That decision whether it’s the third runway [at Heathrow] or another airport has to be made and the sooner the better,” he said.

Etihad alongside its Gulf rivals Emirates and Qatar Airways is ramping up its expansion as it looks to challenge European, Asian and Australian carriers on long-haul routes.

The airline has made several acquisitions in the last year. The airline earlier in the month said it had been given regulatory approval to increase its stake in Virgin Australia to 10 percent. Etihad also owns stakes in Aer Lingus, airberlin Air Seychelles.

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