London Heathrow gets all-clear for massive passenger charge hike

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has given the green light to London Heathrow Airport to raise charges levied on carriers for individual passengers by up to a further £13.00 (US$18.00) from a current £22.00. For now, the increase has been capped at £25 to £35 over the next five years, though chiefs at Heathrow wanted the charge to be increased to £43 commencing January 2022. Instead, a £30.00 fee has been agreed for January, though this will become part of a separate November consultation. That £8 increase means an additional cost of £32 for a family of four, on top of any increase in costs from carriers, as it is anticipated the increase in the levy will be directly passed on to passengers through the cost of their flight.

Keen to increase revenue after a difficult time during the COVID-19 pandemic – last year it reported a £2 billion loss – Heathrow is looking at multiple options to generate additional revenue and has just introduced a £5.00 drop-off charge for passengers who are dropped off outside terminals. Willie Walsh, IATA’s chief has joined BA and Virgin Atlantic in lobbying the CAA to block the price hikes, having accused Heathrow of acting like “a greedy monopoly.”

Heathrow already has the highest fees charged for passengers of any U.K. airport. It is also possible for carriers to object to the levy by going to the Competitions and Markets Authority. A Heathrow spokesman commented that: “While it is right the CAA protect consumers against excessive profits and waste, the settlement is not designed to shield airlines from legitimate cost increases or the impacts of fewer people travelling. We look forward to discussing the CAA’s proposals in detail with the regulator and our airline partners as we work towards a new settlement.” (£1.00 = US$1.38 at time of publication.)

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