Heathrow warns travel chaos could last until 2026 after airport forced to cut passenger charges

Frustration for passengers as airline slot amnesty results in more cancellations

Frustration for passengers as airline slot amnesty results in more cancellations image; Shutterstock

Heathrow Airport has warned that investment in the airport and its facilities will suffer continuing recent chaos until 2026  if the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) goes ahead with its plan to reduce the passenger charges airlines pay.

The proposal announced on Tuesday, June 28, will see the average maximum charge fall from the current £30.19 (€34.97) to £26.31 (€30.47) by 2026. This price is passed on to customers in the form of taxes and costs.

Heathrow wanted the price to rise to more than £40 (€46) to enable it to continue developing the airport and to enable it to cope with increasing passenger numbers following the end of the pandemic.

BA and Virgin Atlantic were strongly opposed to any increase saying that Heathrow is already amongst the most expensive in the world to operate from.

In revealing its proposal the CAA said: “The pricing reflected expected increases in passenger numbers as the recovery from the pandemic continues and the higher level of the price cap in 2022, which was put in place in 2021 to reflect the challenges from the pandemic at the time.”

They said the proposed passenger charges would make flights more affordable with the cost going down by six per cent annually (not accounting for inflation). Campaigners who want to see a reduction in flight numbers are likely to criticise the proposals, which would see increased use of fossil fuels and higher noise and pollution levels.

CAA Chief Executive Richard Moriarty said: “Today’s announcement is about doing the right thing for consumers.

“We have listened very carefully to both Heathrow Airport and the airlines who have differing views to each other about the future level of passenger charges.

“Our independent and impartial analysis balances affordable charges for consumers while allowing Heathrow to make the investment needed for the future.”

Heathrow remains unprofitable after losing nearly £4bn (€4.6bn) during the pandemic as it and those who use the airport continue to struggle with logistical and staffing issues.

Heathrow’s Chief Executive John Holland-Kaye responded saying: “As the industry rebuilds, our focus is to work alongside airlines and their ground handlers to give passengers a reliable and consistent journey through Heathrow.

“The CAA continues to underestimate what it takes to deliver a good passenger service, both in terms of the level of investment and operating costs required and the fair incentive needed for private investors to finance it.

“Uncorrected, these elements of the CAA’s proposal will only result in passengers getting a worse experience at Heathrow as investment in service dries up.”

The CAA’s decision now goes out to industry consultation ahead of a final decision in the autumn, which Heathrow has warned will see investment suffer from the reduced passenger charges.

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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com.