BA threatens to cut Heathrow flights if airport increases charges

British Airways threatens to cut Heathrow flights if airport increases charges that are already among highest in world

  • Airline boss has slammed Heathrow’s plans to increase its charge per passenger
  • IAG chief executive said hiking its prices was not the best way to attract demand
  • Heathrow says higher charge will enable them to invest in its passenger service 

British Airways will consider cutting Heathrow flights if proposed increases in charges are implemented, the boss of the airline’s parent company has claimed. 

Luis Gallego, chief executive of IAG, said the west London airport’s fees are already among the highest in the world and are becoming ‘more and more expensive’.

Currently the airport can charge up to £22 per passenger for the cost of operating terminals, runways, baggage systems and security. 

But in October, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced a plan to raise the cap on the airport’s average charge per passenger to between £24.50 and £34.40. 

Mr Gallego said Heathrow gives the UK’s aviation sector a ‘major advantage’, but warned that ‘we need to attract demand to stay competitive’.

Meanwhile, Heathrow defended its plans, comparing itself as the ‘Waitrose’ of airports as it said the increased charges would allow it to invest in the passenger experience. 

BA will consider cutting Heathrow flights if increased charges are implemented, the boss of the airline’s parent company claimed, adding they’re already among the highest in the world

Mr Gallego told the Airlines 2021 conference in Westminster: ‘The reality is that more than 40 per cent of the people who use Heathrow are connecting passengers.

‘They are simply passing through on their way to other destinations and could easily go by other, more competitive hubs.

‘Hiking charges will not help. It will not attract demand – it will have the opposite effect.

‘If the rise in landing charges goes ahead, I know IAG will not be alone in reconsidering our airlines’ use of Heathrow.’

Speaking at the same event, Tim Alderslade, chief executive of trade body Airlines UK, warned that the level of Heathrow’s fees threatens the viability of its expansion project.

He said: ‘Their inability to keep their charges under control will be the death of runway three.’

Heathrow (pictured) defended the plans saying the higher charges will allow the airport to make ‘key investments’ over five years that will protect the passenger service it delivers 

A Heathrow spokeswoman said: ‘Passengers know when they’re getting a raw deal.

‘A £10 to £15 increase in airport charges is not comparable to pushing up economy-class tickets to the US to over £2,000 this Christmas, which is what some airlines are doing.

‘It’s true that Heathrow is proposing a higher pandemic price increase than continental airports, but we are neither state-owned nor have we received billions in state aid during the crisis – we rely entirely on private investment.

‘Heathrow passengers want a reliable, quality experience.

‘The higher charge will enable us to deliver key investments in the next five years to protect passenger service.

‘Just as Aldi offers great food, plenty of Brits are still very happy to shop at Waitrose and appreciate the value for money they get.’

Under the CAA’s proposals, Heathrow’s exact charge will depend on factors such as passenger demand and commercial revenue, with prices higher if the airport continues to struggle in those areas.

The range is planned to come in effect from summer 2022, with an interim cap of £30 being introduced on January 1.

Charges are paid by airlines but are generally passed on to passengers in air fares.

Heathrow had called for the cap to range from £32 to £43 for the five-year period being consulted on.

The airport said last month that its losses from the Covid-19 pandemic had hit £3.4 billion.

Passenger numbers in October were 56 per cent down on pre-pandemic levels.

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