BA boss says Heathrow is “ripping-off” passengers

Says airport has a history of inflating costs

Willie Walsh says Heathrow is “ripping off” passengers with the cost of a new runway.

He said it could be about £17.6bn (€22.97bn, $26.04bn and that would mean passengers paying £80 towards landing charges per return trip, double the present charge of £40.

Mr Walsh is the CEO of International Airlines Group (IAG), the parent company of British Airways who are by far the biggest airline at Heathrow.

Addressing the Abta Travel Matters conference in London, Mr Walsh said:

“Heathrow is already the most-expensive hub airport in the world, with a history of inflating costs.”

“You cannot trust Heathrow to deliver anything in a cost-effective manner. Customers have been ripped off by Heathrow for years and leopards don’t change their spots.”

Mr Walsh gave an example of Heathrow’s overcharging. He had asked the price of installing self-service bag drop and was quoted just under £150,000 per unit. BA have been quoted a price elsewhere of one tenth of that.

And Heathrow would take four years to deliver instead of a more realistic four months.

Mr Walsh also said that a new runway should be done in phases to keep costs down. This is an idea that has not been heard much before and sounds interesting.

He said that there is no need to build all the facilities at once and suggested building the runway first and using existing terminals. Extra flights should then be introduced gradually only as aircraft become quieter.

Heathrow plans to introduce the new fees very soon, meaning that passengers today will be expected to pay for facilities that will only be in use in ten or probably twenty years.

Mr Walsh said that there is no justification for pre-funding investment in infrastructure.

He also said that he did not see a business case for expanding Gatwick. A point he has made many times.

Last month, Mr Walsh repeated his opposition to a third runway at Heathrow while speaking as a panellist at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Aviation Symposium.

A decision of a new runway is now possibly to be announced on 07 July, a date that would cause huge controversy as it is the day after the Chilcot report into the Iraq war which will get huge attention in the UK. If so it would mean the government is trying to bury the news.

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International Airlines Group (IAG)

British Airways (BA)