Heathrow users could face €8.30 charge

Large numbers of Irish people go through London hub every year

Willie Walsh left, ceo International Airlines Group: he  said Heathrow’s priority appears to be boosting returns toits owners.   Photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times

Willie Walsh left, ceo International Airlines Group: he said Heathrow’s priority appears to be boosting returns toits owners. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times

 


Passengers travelling through Heathrow could face an extra charge of up to €8.30 for using the airport from next April if the UK’s aviation regulator agrees to implement increases proposed by the London hub’s management.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will publish final proposals for airport charges levied on airlines for the period from 2014 to 2019 on October 3rd, and there are fears that the regulator will give into proposals from Heathrow that will allow the hub to increase its prices by the equivalent of €8.30 per passenger.

Because of its status as one of Europe’s biggest hubs, large numbers of Irish people, travelling with carriers such as Aer Lingus and British Airways, go through the airport every year.

The route between it and Dublin is one of the busiest in the EU. Airlines will pass on the increase sought by its management directly to them if the CAA implements it.

Initial proposal
According to Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group, parent of British Airways, which operates services on the Dublin-Heathrow route, the CAA’s initial proposal could add around €4.70 to the cost of flights there, while he believes that the airport’s own recommendations would increase the cost by around €8.30 more than is necessary.

Speaking in Cheng du, China, where British Airways this week landed its inaugural flight from the London hub to the city, Mr Walsh said if Heathrow ran its business more efficiently and cut costs the sought increase would not be needed.

He said that rather than doing this, Heathrow’s priority appears to be boosting returns to its owners. “The airport already pays its shareholders a handsome dividend, and has grown its profits throughout the period of global recession.”

It paid dividends of £150 million last year.

Heathrow has warned that if it does not get the increase it will make it difficult to justify the £3 billion cost of planned future investment in the airport to its shareholders, who include Spanish utility and engineering group Ferrovial and sovereign wealth funds from Canada, Qatar and Singapore.