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Watchdog snub to Heathrow over Covid losses

Simon English
·1-min read
Passengers arrive at Heathrow Airport (PA Wire)
Passengers arrive at Heathrow Airport (PA Wire)

A ROW broke out between Heathrow and the Civil Aviation Authority today after the regulator dismissed the airport’s demand to raise fees by £2.6 billion.

The CAA said this claim was “disproportionate” and limited Heathrow to a £300 million adjustment to its “regulatory asset base” – what it charges passengers and airlines.

Heathrow was furious. It said: “The CAA accepted the need for it to act in order to meet its duties to consumers and to Heathrow’s financeability – but today it has failed to deliver…this undermines investor confidence in UK regulated businesses, and puts at risk the government’s infrastructure agenda.”

The CAA said: “We are clear that any risks to HAL’s [Heathrow Airport Limited’s] actual financing are a matter for its shareholders, not for consumers to resolve.”

Critics note that Heathrow has paid billions in dividends to shareholders pre-pandemic and should not be threatening price rises to customers post Covid.

It does look like Heathrow will now have to raise more capital from investors.

Heathrow’s passenger numbers have fallen to the lowest level since the 1960s, with just 461,000 people travelling through the airport in February.

A spokesman for the Heathrow Hub, an alternative to the long sought third runway, said: “The bottom line is passengers and airlines face higher charges to pay for Heathrow’s incompetence and the CAA are starting to turn the screw. Grant Shapps, the transport secretary pretends it is nothing to do with him but he is right in the middle of this row and can’t hide forever.”

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