Thursday, December 2, 2021
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British Airways threatens to cut Heathrow flights after landing fees row

BA is based at Heathrow and has more flights out of the airport than any other airline (Picture: Shutterstock)

British Airways has threatened to cut flights from Heathrow amid a row over airport charges.

The boss of the airline’s parent company suggested proposed fee increases would reduce demand.

IAG chief executive Luis Gallego said the west London airport’s fees are already among the highest in the world and are becoming ‘more and more expensive’.

But Heathrow rejected the comments by comparing itself to a high-end supermarket – saying that budget chain Aldi ‘offers great food’ but many people are ‘very happy to shop at Waitrose and appreciate the value for money they get’.

It comes after the the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced a plan in October to raise the cap on the airport’s average charge per passenger by up to 76%, taking it from the current level of £19.60 to between £24.50 and £34.40.

IAG’s Mr Gallego conceded that Heathrow gives the UK’s aviation sector a ‘major advantage’, but warned: ‘we need to attract demand to stay competitive’.

He told the Airlines 2021 conference that two out of five people passing through the airport are taking connecting flights, and ‘could easily go by other, more competitive hubs’.

Industry leaders have warned that Heathrow’s plans could cut demand (Picture: PA)

The CEO went on: ‘Hiking charges will not help. It will not attract demand – it will have the opposite effect.

‘If the rise in landing charges goes ahead, I know IAG will not be alone in reconsidering our airlines’ use of Heathrow.’

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

BA, which is based at Heathrow, has more flights from the airport than any other airline.

Mr Gallego’s predecessor, Willie Walsh, claimed that the UK’s aviation sector risks ‘shooting everybody in the foot’ by allowing Heathrow to hike charges, because passengers ‘have an…

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