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London Heathrow Airport will be forced to cut its landing fees over the next four years, the UK aviation regulator has said, in a move that will please airlines but deal a blow to the airport then as the industry recovers from the pandemic.
The Civil Aviation Authority said on Tuesday Heathrow landing fees would drop from £30.19 per passenger to £26.31 by 2026, following a consultation dominated by a row between Heathrow and major airlines that land at the airport.
Heathrow has argued it should be allowed to charge more per passenger given the uncertainty over how many people will be flying after the pandemic and the need to upgrade airport infrastructure.
But airlines have warned against raising ticket prices for passengers at an airport which already has some of the highest landing fees in the world. Charges are generally passed on to customers.
The final decision is at the lower end of the range being considered by the CAA and came after the charge was raised from £22 to £30.19 in January for an interim period to account for lower passenger numbers passing through the airport during the pandemic.
Overall charges will average £28.39 between 2022 and 2026, enough, the regulator said, for Heathrow to install new security equipment and a baggage system in Terminal 2, replacing technology that failed earlier this month.
Following the decision, Heathrow said in a statement: “The CAA continues to underestimate what it takes to provide a good service to passengers, both in terms of the level of investment and operating costs required. and fair incentive necessary for private investors to fund it.”
“Uncorrected, these elements of the CAA’s proposal will only worsen the passenger experience at Heathrow as investment in the service dries up,” he added.
The decision may be appealed to the Competition and Markets Authority.