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Airlines warn of rising fares if Heathrow hikes fees again

Airlines in the UK have issued a “stark warning” about rising fares for passengers at Heathrow if the airport is allowed to hike its fees again.

The association representing carriers in the UK, Airlines UK, said the hub airport already charges more per passenger than every other major airport in the world.

The UK’s airport regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), is deciding whether to allow Heathrow to charge up to £30 per passenger to use its airport from January next year – up from £19.36 currently.

“Its greed could divert tourists and investors to other European hubs – channelling money away from the UK,” warned the association in a statement headlined the ‘Great British Rip-Off’.

Last month the regulator ruled out the doubling of charges proposed by the airport but said Heathrow could still be allowed to increase charges to £30 per passenger at the start of the year and up to £34.40 from next summer.

Airlines UK said fares could rise as airlines will be unable to absorb all the charges.

“While airlines have tapped investors rather than customers for loans to help them survive the global pandemic, Heathrow has taken a very different approach – charging higher passenger fees for trips being taken now, to cover the cost of flights that weren’t taken during the crisis, and borrowing more money that it expects customers to pay back through this increased charge,” it added.

“While fees charges by its European competitors’ have mostly remained flat or fallen, Heathrow has chosen to inflate the fees it charges so that next year it is likely to be more than twice as expensive as some other hubs.”

Tim Alderslade, Airlines UK chief executive, said: “It’s crazy that at a time when the travel industry needs holidaymakers to return to the skies, the UK’s biggest airport is hellbent on trying to price them out, penalising them for not travelling during the pandemic by adding an over-inflated premium to their tickets rather than turning to its shareholders or taking out loans, like the rest of the industry.

“Aviation is vital to support the UK’s economic recovery, but this move will only drive business and jobs elsewhere in Europe.

“We know the CAA prides itself on protecting consumers and we urge it to do just that and reverse this dramatic rise in charges from a monopoly-abusing hub airport.”

In response to criticism about its planned fee increases, a Heathrow spokesman told The Telegraph last month: “The vast majority of airports right across the UK and the world are having to increase their prices – it’s not a uniquely Heathrow phenomenon, but a legitimate response to keep airports operating.”

Heathrow picture by Brookgardener/Shutterstock

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