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NEWS Last modified on July 23, 2013

Heathrow poll finds passengers back higher fees

London Heathrow claims a survey of its travellers shows they are willing to trade higher charges for better services.

The London hub is using the findings to back its request to the UK’s civil aviation authority (CAA) to ease a proposed cap on fees.

In April, the CAA proposed that the airport should raise its take-off and landing fees by 1.3% below inflation over 2014-19.

In response, Heathrow has now scaled back its requested fee hike and claims a survey proves passengers would be happy to pay.

The gateway’s new Alternative Business Plan would cut investment by £427m (€497m), so that Heathrow would now raise its charges by 4.6% over inflation, down from 5.9%.

Under the plan, passenger fees would now climb each year by £1 (€1.16) per ticket, while shareholders would pay £3bn (€3.5bn) over the five years to 2019.

Rather than opposing a rise in their costs, passengers are willing to trade higher fees for better services, claims the hub.

Heathrow's survey found that travellers would be willing for fees to rise by £23 (€27) to 2019, while the airport is seeking an increase of only £5.01 (€5.83).

Colin Matthews, chief executive of Heathrow, said the CAA should respect passengers’ priorities.

“We know airlines want the improvements that we’re proposing and we have done everything possible to keep the cost of those improvements to an absolute minimum,” he said.

“The CAA has a duty to act in passengers’ interests – today we’re making clear that passengers want these improvements and are prepared to pay for them.”

Heathrow’s investment plans include completing Terminal 2: The Queen’s Terminal and early works on extending the building; developing a new integrated baggage system; and constructing more taxiways and stands for modern aircraft models.

The CAA will publish final proposals in October for consultation before reaching a decision in January 2014. 

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