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The new CEO's commitment to fighting for a third runway was likely one of the determinant factors of his appointment and will therefore become the action that does or does not mark his tenure.

Heathrow Airport Ltd. said Development Director John Holland-Kaye will succeed Chief Executive Officer Colin Matthews, entrusting him to lead the fight for a third runway to defend its position as Europe’s busiest hub.

The executive, who joined Heathrow five years ago, will take over as CEO from July 1, the London-based company said in a statement today. As development director, he oversaw the construction of the new Terminal 2, due to open next month.

Heathrow, the home base of British Airways, is eking out capacity while it seeks a third landing strip. The airport was listed with London Gatwick as suitable for expansion by a state-backed study of runway requirements, which will submit revised plans next week ahead of the final recommendations due in 2015.

“John has played a pivotal role in the delivery of the new Terminal 2” and “been heavily involved in developing the new approach to Heathrow expansion which has been shortlisted by the Airports Commission,” Matthews said in the statement.

Matthews oversaw the opening of Terminal 5, now among the most popular facilities of its kind after resolving baggage-system issues that marred the March 2008 opening. The CEO, who oversaw travel during the London Olympic and Paralympic Games, announced his departure last month.

The airport company snapped five years of losses in 2013 with a pretax profit of 426 million euros ($588 million). The hub, which is operating at the limits of its two runways, added 2.3 million more customers by luring larger jets such as the Airbus Group NV A380 superjumbo.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kari Lundgren in London at To contact the editors responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at

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Tags: execs, heathrow, lhr

Photo Credit: Passengers queue to check in at Terminal 5 at Heathrow airport in London March 16, 2012. Luke MacGregor / Reuters