Heathrow Airport proposes 'to raise ticket prices'

An aeroplane at Heathrow Airport Heathrow forecasts it will serve around 72.6 million passengers by 2018-19.

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Passengers using Heathrow could face a rise in ticket prices if a £3bn five-year investment plan proposed by airport bosses is approved.

Heathrow wants regulators to allow it to increase charges for airlines to use the airport, between 2014 and 2019.

The charges need to be approved by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA),

Under the plan, they will go up by the equivalent of £19.33 per passenger for 2012-13 up to a possible £27.30 in 2018-19.

Virgin Atlantic described the proposed price rise as "incredibly steep" and British Airways said it hoped it would not "penalise customers".

The CAA will publish its final decision on whether it has approved Heathrow's proposals in January 2014.

Heathrow said the increased charges would pay for investment including the opening of the new Terminal 2 in 2014 and improved check-in and baggage facilities.

'Stiff competition'

Launching the investment plans, Heathrow chief Colin Matthews said the airport envisaged passenger numbers increasing from just under 70m now to around 72.6m by 2018-19.

But he admitted Heathrow, airlines and the CAA had all got their passenger forecasts wrong for the period 2009 to 2014.

Start Quote

Any investment plans between 2014 and 2019 should be targeted and efficient”

End Quote British Airways spokesman

He said the CAA issued its ruling on the charges Heathrow could impose on airlines for that period, on the basis of the west London airport handling 78m passengers a year by 2013, more than 8m out.

Mr Matthews said this miscalculation had resulted in Heathrow receiving around £650m less money over the last five years.

"Heathrow faces stiff competition from other European hubs and we must continue to improve the service we offer passengers and airlines," Mr Matthews added.

Heathrow's five-year plan is separate from any decision on whether a third Heathrow runway - currently ruled out by the coalition government - is built.

The Davies Commission set up by the government to look at aviation strategy is not due to publish a final report until summer 2015, which will be after the next general election.

Virgin Atlantic said: "We are totally committed to improving the passenger experience at Heathrow.

"However, we believe this can be done without a repeat of the incredibly steep price rises we have seen in airport charges in the last few years.

British Airways said: "We hope the regulator (the CAA) will give a fair ruling in the months ahead, which doesn't penalise customers and airlines."

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