Surinder Arora is an ex-baggage handler who swears to build Heathrow's third runway at half price

Surinder Arora is an ex-baggage handler who swears to build Heathrow's third runway at half price

Surinder Arora was in his own words a "complete idiot" at the age of 11 years. He smoked, played and played with a knife as he moved through the streets of Punjab, India, where he grew up with his aunt and uncle, who adopted him when he was a few days old.

Two years later, his life was turned upside down when he moved to his biological parents in Southall, a city in western London known as "Little Punjab." The young Surinder quickly returned to bad habits, but was directly misled by his mother, who threatened to drive him out of his family home after he lied because he had come down from school.

"She gave me a good hiding place," says Arora, who remembers his mother telling him, "You always do something wrong and tell me the truth, I'll protect you. If you lie to me again, I'll kick you out of the house next time. He adds, "She was that kind of person. "

Empire: Surinder Arora has raised a fortune of 350 million pounds after opening his first hotel in 1999

Empire: Surinder Arora has raised a fortune of 350 million pounds after opening his first hotel in 1999

Empire: Surinder Arora has raised a fortune of 350 million pounds after opening his first hotel in 1999

Arora, 60 years old and even father of three children, has chosen the decent ones. The resident of Wentworth, Surrey, calls Sir Cliff Richard and Tony Blair as his close friends.

He has built an empire of hotel and real estate assets and, with an estimated net worth of £ 350 million, is one of the UK's richest Asian men. To cement his position within the British establishment, Arora was even at the wedding of Princess Eugenie last month as a guest. "My daughter Sonia attended the same school as Beatrice. [Eugenie’s elder sister]He says something embarrassed. "That's how we've known the family for a long time – Sonias is now 32 years old. It was a great honor and a fabulous time. It was wonderful. & # 39;

Arora, sitting with a beaming smile in the café bar of his Sofitel Hotel at Heathrow Airport, is obviously proud to be a friend of the Queen's son, Prince Andrew, and other celebrities.

But he asks to make a name for himself – and become part of British history – by being the man who (finally) builds the third runway and the sixth terminal of Heathrow.

He faces a tough fight. Parliament voted in favor of Heathrow's expansion in June – 50 years after a Labor government first commissioned a report on the expansion of London's airport – but there is still huge political opposition. Among others, Boris Johnson, who was read by many as a future Tory party leader, as well as Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell's lab.

"I hate being controversial," says Arora, when asked about Corbyn and McDonnell. "But I will answer that question: I think it would be a total catastrophe – an absolute disaster – we would go back to the '70s, we have to continue as a nation and I think it would be a real tragedy if Jeremy Corbyn went to the Power would come. "

Arora also faces the challenge of convincing the government that it is better placed to lead Heathrow's expansion than the airport operator Heathrow Airports Limited (HAL). Arora's background is owned. He specializes in the development of hotels, offices, parking lots and other facilities in airport areas.

Many, including the Heathrow bosses, had assumed that HAL would be the only candidate for the construction of a runway and a terminal. So it was a shock to the crowd – and apparently "upset" by Heathrow officials – when Arora revealed his plans in the summer of 2017.

A big selling point of Arora is the price. He claims HAL could cost £ 31 billion, while he believes his team can complete the £ 14.4 billion task.

Heathrow insists its plans have similar costs and Arora's £ 31 billion includes other necessary work at its airport. A spokesman rejected Arora's plans, saying that Heathrow's development could not be "delayed by legitimate commercial interests with unchecked ideas." John Holland-Kaye, chief executive of Heathrow, warned that Arora's plans would lead to that its airport could be turned into a "disaster", such as JFK in New York, where different companies operate different terminals.

"John – JHK – is a handsome guy," says Arora, the largest landowner in and around Heathrow and indeed the landlord of HAL. "I never say anything about my opponent – that it's bad, that it's bad at anything," he adds, before revealing a long list of grips over Heathrow.

Its concern is centered on the Civil Aviation Authority, according to which Heathrow and its investors – including the Spanish company Ferrovial, the Qatar Investment Authority and the China Investment Corporation – charge airlines that match the value of the airport assets. The more HAL spent on building Heathrow, the more money will be returned to investors.

Arora estimates that HAL's third runway and terminal plans are too expensive because the company currently has a "monopoly". He adds, "I told the manager," Why are you so afraid of the competition? "We should say that competition is a good thing, it keeps everyone on their toes."

Both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have so far expressed support for Arora's proposal to introduce competition and possibly cut its costs.

SURINDER ARORA, 60: LEEDS UTD FAN AND FORMER FOOTBALL REF

Fan: Surinder started watching Leeds United in 1972

Fan: Surinder started watching Leeds United in 1972

Fan: Surinder started watching Leeds United in 1972

Family: Married to Ms. Sunita for 36 years. He has three adult children – Sapna, Sonia and Sanjay – and five grandchildren.

Vacation: He has a holiday home in Dubai, which is a good meeting place for his relatives in India, and an apartment in Pune, India.

Hobbies: Loves all sports. Play golf in Wentworth – and used to play a part in the club – and tennis. Arora was also a semi-professional football referee and supports Leeds United.

"When I came from India in 1972, the first game I saw on TV was Arsenal v Leeds, and my brother was a supporter of Arsenal back then. I said I would go against him. Thankfully, it's not Man U. '

Music: Whitney Houston and Tina Turner.

Movie: All James Bond films, especially Casino Royale.

Eat: Chinese and Italian.

heroes: Allan Leighton – former CEO of Asda, Chairman of Royal Mail and currently Chairman of the Cooperative Group – because of the way he treats people.

And Mark Dixon, the founder of the Regus service bureau.

The Arora team, which includes the Bechtel group Bechtel as Corgan's lead partner and architectural firm, is currently working on its competing planning application and plans to submit it in 2020. There is now a minor dispute between Arora and Heathrow.

During the summer, Arora staged a High Court Challenge against HAL after stalling plans to build a 2,000-seat park on Heathrow grounds. According to planning rules, no more than 42,000 spaces can be built there, and HAL argues that only these slots are eligible. If he wins the fight that would be a good sign before his runway warfare, Arora guarantees a 50 percent discount on Heathrow's current parking charges.

Since his teenage years, Arora has been working hard all his adult life. "I used to work 17, 18 hours a day, seven days a week and do three jobs at a time," he says. Floor scrubbers, security guards, semi-professional football referees and Heathrow baggage handlers are just a few of the roles he performs.

He founded his first hotel in 1999 and has since accumulated his fortune of £ 350 million. Why would he fight Heathrow if he retired comfortably at the age of 60?

"This will make a big difference for future generations," he says. "If we do not – it does not have to be me, I do not care who does it – then our friends." [HAL] it will continue to milk and consumers, airlines, passengers and the nation will continue to suffer.

"Then it will come to a stage where it is a white elephant – nobody wants to fly in because he can not afford it."

If Arora is finally ready to hang up his building cap, he probably will not be around to learn the benefits – or environmental costs – of the airport's policy position – an extended Heathrow. Instead, he plans to return to the streets of India, which he once visited as a young man with knives.

"India's home," he says. "I have a family there, I keep my roots, my eldest brother and sister are still living there. One day, when I'm a bit old and frail, I'll go back."

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