War in the air as Heathrow and UK flag carriers fall out

One way of earning extra income

One way of earning extra income Credit: Heathrow Airport

WAR in the air as Heathrow and UK flag carriers fall out over the cost being charged per passenger travelling.

A report, commissioned by Virgin Atlantic, British Airways and IATA from WPI Economics blasts both the management of Heathrow Airport and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) over proposed increased charges.

Understandably during the lockdown and suspension of international flights caused by the pandemic, Heathrow as the UK’s main airline hub suffered a significant loss of income as fewer flights meant fewer travellers and less airport revenue.

The report finds that Heathrow is one of the most expensive airports for airlines in the world and actually held the title of most expensive between 2014 and 2020.

Anxious to start to recoup some of its lost income, Heathrow proposed increasing the amount charged per passenger from £19 to £43, a huge 117 per cent hike and in the event, a temporary rise to just over £30 (56 per cent) was approved by the CAA to give it a chance to consider the long-term situation.

Britain’s two major flag carriers oppose this increase arguing that as the UK economy is already in a difficult position and the airlines are struggling to recover their own lost income, it would be unfeasible to increase prices significantly to passengers.

They argue that the end result will be to make the UK’s global aviation industry less competitive, undermine the hub operation at Heathrow and reduce the domestic and international connectivity that is vitally needed to achieve Global Britain.

Not unsurprisingly, Heathrow Airport which is owned by a consortium of overseas investors from Canada, China, Qatar, Spain and the USA dispute the airline claims as well as the suggestion that it is deliberately underplaying the current number of travellers in order to try to justify increased charges.

Passengers who are currently finding long waits at Heathrow caused by apparent staff shortages and interminable flight cancellations, may not be particularly supportive of either side at the moment especially as in a bid to raise funds it even costs £5 just to drop someone off by the terminal buildings.

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