Heathrow ‘hits a new low’ in rip-off storm
Heathrow hits new low in rip-off storm over long-running dispute over costs for travelers and airlines
- Boss John Holland-Kaye said hub should raise costs
- Comments follow CAA’s move to lower average surcharge per passenger
- Holland-Kaye wants CAA to reverse its decision and charge higher fees
Heathrow has been accused of ‘reaching new lows’ and trying to defraud travelers and airlines in a protracted row over charges.
Willie Walsh, the director-general of the International Air Transport Association, lashed out at the UK’s flagship airport after his boss, John Holland-Kaye, said during a talk with investors that the hub needs to raise fares to get an acceptable level of passenger service.
Holland-Kaye’s comments follow a summer move by the sector’s regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to lower the limit on the average charge per passenger at Heathrow from £30.19 to £26.31 by 2026. Holland-Kaye wants the CAA to reverse its decision and allow it to levy higher fees.
Struggle: Heathrow is still reeling from Covid setbacks and travel disruptions from recent months
But his attitude has put him at odds with Walsh – a former CEO of IAG, the owner of British Airways – and other airline bosses.
“Heathrow has hit a new low by hiding its incompetence,” Walsh said over the weekend.
It accused airlines of causing the summer travel fiasco for which it was responsible. And now it is blaming the CAA for seeing through its thinly veiled attempts to tamper with the system and defraud passengers and airlines. If Heathrow had a mirror, the cause of the trouble would be obvious.’ Heathrow has challenged the CAA over alleged ‘mistakes’ in its proposal to lower the tariff cap.
The airport is still reeling from Covid setbacks and travel disruptions in recent months. It has accumulated £15 billion in debt after shareholders failed to provide financial support during the pandemic.
Holland-Kaye said last week that the CAA plan “really isn’t working”, adding that it “doesn’t generate enough money and revenue to deliver the level of service passengers expect”. He said the CAA had “not struck the right balance” between airport and airlines.
Heathrow led the way in the summer travel disruption, introducing a daily limit of 100,000 passengers due to staff shortages.
It has since proposed further restrictions on passenger numbers over Christmas, an idea that has sparked criticism from Virgin Atlantic.
The airline accused the airport of downplaying the recovery in travel to further its own agenda with the CAA.
The CAA said: ‘We believe that our proposals are in the best interest of consumers.’