UK NRI hotel tycoon submits economical bid for Heathrow expansion plan; British Airways approves

Surinder Arora, an Indian-origin businessman, has submitted plans for a third runway at Heathrow Airport in London which he claims to be 6.7 billion pounds cheaper than the airport's current scheme.

Surinder Arora.
Surinder Arora. Photo Courtesy: Twitter

The owner of Arora International Hotels put his proposal to the government's public consultation on Heathrow against a 17.5-billion-pound plan for which the British ministers have expressed a preference.

Arora Group's proposals include changing the design of terminal buildings and taxiways, and reducing the amount of land it is built on, the BBC reported.

"We appreciate this is a politically sensitive issue but it is merely an option with additional savings of 1.5 billion pounds, whereas the rest of our proposals save up to 5.2 billion pounds without the need to amend the runway location," Arora said. "One of the options we have proposed to the government includes a possible shift of the runway so that it does not impact on the M25 and M4, as we know the M25 junction being affected threatens the deliverability of the whole project," the hotel tycoon said.

Arora, who migrated to Britain at the age of 13, concentrates on hotels near airports to provide rooms for aircrew. He currently owns hotels that provide a total of over 5,500 bedrooms, including franchises from Hilton and Holiday Inn.

Heathrow Terminal 5.
Heathrow Terminal 5. Photo Courtesy:

Heathrow said it was already considering some of the ideas, and wanted to lower the cost too. "Heathrow's expansion proposals are supported by the government and have widespread cross-party political, business and union support," an airport spokeswoman said.

Construction will not begin for at least three years, and it could be delayed by legal challenges over the runway's environmental impact.

British Airways, the largest client of Heathrow, supported the proposals of Arora. Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways’ owner IAG, said, “The government should look closely at Arora’s proposal as it would significantly reduce costs.”

The Theresa May government gave the green signal to the third runway at Heathrow (instead of Gatwick) in October 2016, after successive governments had postponed a decision for a decade, triggering the resignation of a Conservative MP opposed to the runway on environmental grounds.

The expansion of Heathrow is considered vital to the continuing growth of Britain’s economy and to meet ever-growing demands from international air traffic. The third runway is expected to add billions to the economy, besides creating thousands of jobs. Construction is likely to begin in 2020.

Many Indian-origin people are employed at various levels in the airport. The Indian community in the area has welcomed the third runway, whose construction will impact the major two adjoining highways, M25 and M4.