Outgoing Heathrow airport boss John Holland-Kaye has expressed frustration there are no “diggers over my friend Boris Johnson’s constituency” due to expansion delays.
He insisted a third runway at the west London airport is vital for the UK to have a “thriving, healthy economy”.
Mr Johnson, who is the Conservative MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip near the airport, pledged in 2015 that he would lie in front of the bulldozers if expansion went ahead.
Heathrow is continuing to develop its plan to build a third runway, which has been delayed by legal challenges and the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking at an event organised by the Aviation Club in central London, Mr Holland-Kaye said: “If I have a regret, it’s that were it not for Covid, we might have received our planning consent by now and be getting on with the diggers over my friend Boris Johnson’s constituency.
“Getting on and delivering the expanded Heathrow that will connect all of Britain to global growth.
“I’m going to leave that to my successor along with the great team that I am proud to have been a part of for the last 14 years.”
He went on: “For the future success of the UK, we need to have a third runway at Heathrow.
“You cannot have a thriving, healthy economy if you don’t have a successful hub airport here in the UK, and it’s got to be bigger than Heathrow is today.
“What we should be thinking about is the value to consumers.
“The best way to deliver value for consumers is by having more competition and choice at Heathrow between airlines.
“The only way to do that is to have more capacity.”
Asked if he was concerned that a series of strikes by Heathrow security guards this summer in a row over pay would cause disruption, Mr Holland-Kaye replied: “We’ve had 18 days of strikes in the last six weeks and no-one would have noticed.”
He went on: “We have the resources to be able to keep the airport going, and we’ll be able to announce in the next week or so how we are going to be doing that, and you may see me working in security.”
Mr Holland-Kaye urged trade union Unite, which announced the strikes, to put the airport’s latest proposal to a vote of its members as “we know that most of our colleagues would accept the offer that we have on the table”.
On Wednesday, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said security staff at Heathrow “can barely make ends meet and are paid far less than workers at other airports”.
Mr Holland-Kaye announced in February he would leave his role this year.
His successor has not been appointed.