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Walsh criticizes Heathrow plan for higher fees

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Willie Walsh, head of the global airline industry body IATA, called UK Heathrow Airport a “greedy monopoly hub” and said his plans to increase airport charges were “outrageous”.

Willie Walsh left Aer Lingus and the parent company of British Airways IAG last year to lead the International Air Transport Association.

Since his departure he has continued to bang the drum against passenger charges at Britain’s busiest airport.

Speaking to an audience at the London Aviation Club, he said Heathrow was trying to put the financial burden of the Covid-19 crisis on its customers by offering to increase airport charges by 90% to £ 42 per person.

“This time around, when you see what Heathrow is trying to do, it is obvious,” Walsh said.

Heathrow, which lost its crown of Europe’s busiest hub last year to Paris, is owned by investors such as Spain’s Ferrovial, the Qatar Investment Authority and China Investment Corp.

He said airports in Britain and around the world had to raise prices after the pandemic, and it was a legitimate response to ensure they could continue to operate.

“We have proposed a balanced 4% increase in average air fare, which will allow us to continue targeted investments in airport resilience and maintain basic service standards,” Heathrow said in a statement.


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Walsh said the higher fees would fund larger dividends for Heathrow shareholders.

He called on the British regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, to protect consumers by pushing back against “scandalous behavior” at the airport.

“The recovery of the UK travel and tourism industry is impacting millions of jobs. They cannot be held hostage by the intransigence of what is in fact a greedy monopoly airport hub,” a- he declared.

“I do not see how much doubling the fees at Heathrow is in the best interests of consumers, especially as we are trying to revive the industry,” he added.

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