Britain’s aviation regulator ordered London’s Heathrow airport on Wednesday to reduce fees it charges airlines, with demand bouncing back strongly after the lifting of pandemic lockdowns.
Heathrow hit out at the decision, saying its costs have been hit hard by soaring inflation at time when it has yet to fully recover from aviation’s Covid shutdown.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said the reduction “recognises that passenger volumes are expected to return to pre-pandemic levels and should benefit passengers in terms of lower costs”.
The regulator said the charge to airlines per passenger would drop by almost a fifth to £25.43, for three years starting in 2024.
Heathrow slammed the move in a strongly-worded statement.
“The CAA has chosen to cut airport charges to their lowest real terms level in a decade at a time when airlines are making massive profits and Heathrow remains loss-making because of fewer passengers and higher financing costs,” it said.
Luis Gallego, chief executive of British Airways’ parent IAG, hinted that the cut did not go far enough.
“Heathrow already charges three times more per passenger than other major airports in Europe including Gatwick and Madrid, and five times more than Dublin.”
He added that IAG, which owns various airlines including Spanish carrier Iberia, would “continue to assess… options for further action to ensure UK consumers do not pay an unfair price to use Heathrow”.