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Heathrow boss says says airlines AND passengers must pay more to bolster recovery


Heathrow boss says airlines AND passengers must pay more to bolster recovery as the airport reveals Covid losses of £3.4bn

  • Boss John Holland-Kaye said the airport was ‘on the cusp of recovery’ after coronavirus restrictions resulted in another dire summer 
  • But he warned it would take at least another five years for passenger numbers to get back to pre-Covid levels
  • The airport, which was Europe’s largest before Covid, wants to charge airlines up to £43 for every passenger handled. This is a hike from £22 in 2020 










Heathow sparked a fresh war of words with the airline industry as it revealed losses have hit £3.4bn since the pandemic began. 

Boss John Holland-Kaye said the airport was ‘on the cusp of recovery’ after coronavirus restrictions resulted in another dire summer. But he warned it would take at least another five years for passenger numbers to get back to pre-Covid levels. 

And he said the outlook meant regulators should allow it to charge airlines and passengers more to help speed up the rebound and reward backers. 

Heathow sparked a fresh war of words with the airline industry as it revealed losses have hit £3.4bn since the pandemic began

Heathow sparked a fresh war of words with the airline industry as it revealed losses have hit £3.4bn since the pandemic began

Heathrow has been at loggerheads with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and airlines – led by British Airways – over its demands to ramp up the fees it charges to allow planes to take off and land. These are typically passed on to customers, and airlines have warned it is the wrong moment to push up ticket prices at a time when they are trying to encourage people back into flying. 

The airport, which was Europe’s largest before Covid, wants to charge airlines up to £43 for every passenger handled. This is a hike from £22 in 2020. The CAA has since suggested a compromise of £34.40 and is currently consulting on that figure. The industry hit back at Heathrow’s latest demand for higher prices last night. Airlines UK said the regulator ‘needs to stand its ground’. 

A spokesman for the trade body said: ‘Any further increase in charges – not least by the 50pc the CAA are mooting – will hit consumers and make travel more expensive. ‘How can we have Global Britain when we levy the highest aviation taxes and allow the most expensive hub airport anywhere in the world to keep raising its fees? It would just make us even more uncompetitive.’ 

Heathrow is already thought to be the most expensive airport in the world. Its latest data showed that in the first nine months of the year just 10m passengers passed through its terminals. It was processing around 80m a year before the pandemic and some 19m in the first nine months of 2020. 

Boss John Holland-Kaye said the airport was 'on the cusp of recovery' after coronavirus restrictions resulted in another dire summer

Boss John Holland-Kaye said the airport was ‘on the cusp of recovery’ after coronavirus restrictions resulted in another dire summer

Holland-Kaye said: ‘It has definitely been a tough 18 months, but we are starting to see the recovery coming through. We are on the cusp of a recovery that will unleash pentup demand. But we need a fair financial settlement from the CAA to sustain service and resilience after 15 years of negative real returns from investors.’ 

Previously state-owned, Heathrow was taken private by Spain’s Ferrovial in 2006 and its investors now include the sovereign wealth funds of Qatar, Singapore and China. 

Airport sources that said its shareholders should be rewarded for transforming Heathrow from a ‘national embarrassment’ into an airport that passengers now rate as one of the best in the world. 

Holland-Kaye said: ‘In most years, they’ve had no returns at all. And some years they’ve had to put money into the airport.’ He added: ‘We provide tremendous value for money and all we are looking to do is make a fair return on our investment.’ 

Heathrow’s harrowing financial results revealed it lost £458m during the usually lucrative summer season between July and September, compared with a £516m loss in the summer of 2020. Losses in the first nine months of 2021 topped £1.5bn, bringing the total loss to £3.4bn since it was forced to cancel virtually all flights in March 2020.  



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