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Article from BTNews 1 NOVEMBER 2021

Airport charge battle *

The war of words between Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye and International Air Transport Association (IATA) Director General Willie Walsh on airport charges is hotting up.

Heathrow is largely owned by overseas interests whilst Walsh, whose members operate to airports all over the world, is very much focused on what was his previous employee IAG, number one hub.

Holland-Kaye has announced figures that show Heathrow experienced its first full quarter of passenger growth since 2019, underscoring pent-up demand as travel restrictions eased and testing requirements were simplified. Passenger numbers in Q3 recovered to 28%, and cargo to 90% of pre-pandemic levels. Traffic is not expected to fully recover until at least 2026.

“£3.4bn in total losses since the start of pandemic underscore long road ahead – Airports have very high fixed costs and despite over 30% reduction in operating costs, Heathrow has lost £3.4bn cumulatively since the start of the pandemic and remains loss making today. We have the financial strength, with £4.1bn of cash, to be able to come through until the market recovers,” he  said.

He claims that the Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) initial proposals do not go far enough to ensure financial stability, pointing out that shareholders have achieved negative returns in real terms over the last 15 years.

Walsh disagrees regarding return on investment.  Speaking at the London Aviation Club he said: “It’s time for Heathrow’s shareholders to step up. They have enjoyed steady returns for years. Instead of expecting the travelling public to be covering excessive returns, it’s time for them to invest. All eyes will be on the CAA to ensure they are doing their job in protecting the consumer by pushing back on the airport’s outrageous behaviour.”


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Gillian Hope, Windsor

Well done Mr Walsh. I gather his has attacked Amsterdam and Frankfurt along the same lines.