Chief executive hopes governement’s next aviation policy document would consider the option

Britain’s leading airports operator BAA has said that it is still pursuing the idea of building a third Heathrow runway.

The company’s chief executive Colin Matthews criticised the mooted alternatives this week, raising technical objections to the so-called “Heathwick”, a possible high-speed rail link between Gatwick and Heathrow, and questioning whether the UK could afford a major new airport in the Thames Estuary.

Matthews told the Financial Times he hoped the government’s next aviation policy document would consider the option of a third runway for Heathrow, which is running at full capacity.

The coalition last year ruled out allowing new runways at Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted airports during the current parliament, citing environmental concerns and objections by local residents.

A report commissioned by BAA and published last month concluded that Britain risked missing out on £14bn of trade with emerging markets over the next decade because Heathrow’s capacity meant it was unable to expand its range of long-haul routes.

The news comes as Tory MP Justine Greening was appointed to be the new transport secretary, due to Philip Hammond’s move to become defence secretary replacing Liam Fox.