Heathrow faces pressure to reduce landing fee hike Business

Heathrow is under pressure to drop plans for higher landing fees after the airport saw the most travelers since the start of the pandemic.

Almost 4.2 million passengers used Heathrow in March, the highest level for two years.

Meanwhile, experts said this week’s Easter schedule will reach 86% of 2019 levels at the airport.

Heathrow increased the landing fees it charges airlines by a third in January and wants to increase them by up to 90% over the next five years.

The airport predicts it will handle 45.5 million passengers in 2022, well above the 19.4 million people who passed through its terminals last year – but a far cry from the 80.9 million in 2019.

Heathrow said the increases in landing fees were necessary to be able to cover costs based on lower passenger numbers.

Airlines are angry at his plans, which must be approved by the Civil Aviation Authority.

A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson said: “Heathrow is expected to be Europe’s busiest airport this year, with its passenger figures in March demonstrating the accelerated pace of recovery. Meanwhile, Virgin Atlantic expects a 100% return to 2019 flights, during this year’s summer peak.

“To protect consumers, inaccurate forecasts that underestimate recurring demand should not be used to determine sunk charges.”

Nigel Wicking, chief executive of Heathrow’s airline operating committee, said the airport’s “pessimistic outlook…will be used to drive up service charges per passenger”. [Heathrow] is allowed to charge in 2022 and beyond”.

Mr Wicking added: “Based on industry intelligence and forward bookings, airlines have forecast passenger traffic to rebound strongly in 2022 and we expect further growth, ahead of initial projections from the airline. Heathrow airport, for Easter and until the summer.”

Tim Alderslade, head of trade body Airlines UK, added: “Heathrow is trying to recoup its pandemic losses on the backs of passengers by relying on overly pessimistic forecasts that suit their own agenda. They fire a quick shot and we need CAA to be wise in that regard.

A Heathrow source said volumes for the first three months of the year were “slightly behind” their projections.

The row comes amid widespread disruption at UK airports as the aviation sector grapples with staff shortages.

Chief Executive John Holland-Kaye said the airport is “doing everything in its power to ensure passengers get on their way as smoothly and safely as possible”.

Once the second most popular airport for international passengers in the world, Heathrow has fallen in the rankings during the pandemic as UK travel restrictions have deterred people coming from overseas.

New figures released on Monday reveal Heathrow has slipped behind Istanbul, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Paris in 2021. It sits in seventh place, having held the second position before the pandemic. Dubai retained the top spot in the ranking, compiled by the trade body Airports Council International.

The top 10 airports in terms of domestic and international passengers were dominated by US bases. Eight of the airports were in America, with Atlanta taking the top spot. Guangzhou, China, in first place in 2020, fell to eighth place as Beijing’s strict Covid restrictions hit traffic. Chengdu was the only other non-US airport among the top 10 busiest bases in the world.

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This notice was published: 2022-04-11 19:59:55

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