Harefield Gazette

‘Heathrow abusing its monopoly position’


HEATHROW Airport has defended plans to increase charges on airlines that will be passed onto passengers.

A report, slammed by the airport, said the proposed £5 billion increase over four years was “unjustifie­d”.

The report commission­ed by airlines warned that raising fees will lead to significan­tly fewer passengers using the airport.

Heathrow described the study by consultanc­y WPI Economics as “flawed” and “embarrassi­ng”.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is expected to announce a five-year cap on the airport’s charges this summer.

It gave Heathrow permission to raise fees by more than 50% on January 1 as an interim measure.

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

Virgin Atlantic boss Shai

Weiss said: “Already the most expensive airport in Europe, Heathrow is abusing its monopoly position to fleece passengers and undermine the competitiv­eness of global Britain, all to deliver excessive returns to its shareholde­rs.”

The WPI Economics report, led by former Treasury official Matthew Oakley, claimed that Heathrow’s proposal to increase fees by a “disproport­ionate 117%” will see charges being “at least £5bn more than needed”.

It claimed the airport’s plan is based on “flawed projection­s” and accused Heathrow of over-estimating future operating costs by £750 million; under-estimating future commercial revenue by £1bn; under-estimating passenger numbers, leading to a £200mn cost; and overstatin­g the rate of return needed to raise investment, leading to increased costs of “as much as £3 billion”.

The report was commission­ed by British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and airline trade body the Internatio­nal Air Transport Associatio­n.

Mr Oakley said: “The Government must act to ensure that its global Britain and levelling up agendas are not jeopardise­d by an unjustifie­d regulatory decision which puts shareholde­rs above consumers and the economy. This might take a rethink of how Heathrow is regulated.”

A Heathrow spokesman said: “This ‘analysis’ from airlines is so flawed it is embarrassi­ng. The only thing passengers get when you under-invest in an airport is missed flights – which is what we saw at airports across Britain recently, while Heathrow operated smoothly because we have invested in service.”

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