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UK's May leaning toward approving Heathrow expansion- FT

Oct 17 British Prime Minister Theresa May is leaning toward approving a plan to build a new runway at London's Heathrow airport, the Financial Times reported on Monday citing Whitehall officials.

May still needs to discuss the proposals with senior colleagues at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday ahead of the expected announcement, it said.

May had said earlier this month that the decision would be made shortly. Her office could not reached for comment.

The decision to expand Britain's and Europe's busiest airport, rather than its smaller rival Gatwick, would end years of battling for government approval to build an extra runway.

May's predecessor David Cameron was due to rule on the expansion in July, but Britain's vote in June to leave the European Union resulted in his resignation and delayed the decision.

Heathrow, which is closer to London, faced greater scrutiny than Gatwick after it breached air quality limits in 2014.

Business leaders preferred Heathrow's expansion as it is also Britain's biggest port by value, handling a third of the country's non-EU exports through established connections with emerging markets.

Gatwick, which is surrounded by countryside 40 miles south of London, had argued that its stronger environmental position bolstered the case to build a new runway there.

Heathrow airport delined to comment and Gatwick airport could not be immediately reached for comment.

Both Heathrow, owned by Spanish infrastructure company Ferrovial, Qatar Holding, China Investment Corp plus others, and Gatwick, owned by investment fund Global Infrastructure Partners, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and others, say that airport expansion can be funded without government money.

(Reporting by Sangameswaran S in Bengaluru; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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