International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG) CEO Willie Walsh has criticised Heathrow Airport for hiding the increasing cost of the proposed third runway.

In a submission to UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Walsh said that Heathrow is acting in an irresponsible manner by spending more than £3.3bn before securing planning permission.

He argued that this money will be recovered from airlines and, in turn, travellers.

Walsh urged the CAA to stop Heathrow from increasing the proposed runway’s costs.

He said: “Heathrow’s on a massive gravy train and will do everything to protect that. We have absolutely no confidence in its ability to deliver cost-effective expansion.

“The total bill for expansion is already running at £32bn and yet they are trying to deceive everyone by continuing to claim that it can be done for £14bn.

“Heathrow told the CAA that pre-planning permission costs were £915m. They’ve now been ramped up to £3.3bn. The airport is treating customers with contempt and the CAA like puppets.”

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Rebutting Walsh’s accusations, a spokesperson for Heathrow reported its estimate of the project’s cost had not changed.

“The costs for developing Heathrow out to 2050 are exactly the same as we submitted to the Airports Commission. IAG’s misleading rhetoric won’t change history.

“What will change in the future is the huge increase in competition amongst airlines and choice for passengers that we will deliver by expanding Heathrow.

“We can’t be held up by IAG simply looking to protect their dominant position and record profits.”

The London Assembly recently requested that the British Government reconsider its plans to construct a third runway at Heathrow, arguing that it will drastically increase noise and air pollution.

Permission was granted for the runway by the British Government last year, following decades of debate. Heathrow published its masterplan in June, with consultations running until 13 September.

The High Court of Justice in London has rejected legal challenges after hearing concerns filed by five different petitioners opposing Heathrow’s expansion project.

According to the masterplan, construction work on the third runway is likely to commence in 2022 with scheduled completion in 2026. The rest of the airport’s infrastructure, including new terminals, will be completed by around 2050.

Once operational, the facility is expected to boost Heathrow’s annual passenger handling capacity from 78 million passengers to 130 million.