Third runway must not lead to charge hike: IATA

Heathrow must ensure airport charges do not rise due the construction of the third runway, airline industry body IATA has said.

Heathrow’s charges are already the highest in the world. They are more than double that of Gatwick, 25 per cent more than Frankfurt, 34 per cent more than Paris CDG and 40 per cent more than Amsterdam.

The projected costs of the runway–at £17 billion–are a deep concern for IATA which has reiterated that airline support for the project is conditional on the agreement of a guaranteed affordable plan.

Encouraging comments have been noted by IATA, however, with the UK transport secretary Chris Grayling saying the scheme must deliver “a plan for expansion that keeps landing charges close to current levels.”

IATA said it has also welcomed comments from the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) CEO Andrew Haines, who emphasized the need for HAL to engage with airlines to drive cost efficiency.

As well as the importance of value for money and engagement, IATA says there is an urgent need to get “open the books” and get beneath the figures, as HAL committed to do in a letter to IATA in September. It said there is also a need for HAL to address concerns around compensation costs and surface access.

IATA has also highlighted how important it is that the UK CAA’s approach is fair to customers and airlines.

IATA said it remains disappointed with the CAA’s decision regarding the approval of the first £10 million of planning costs being incorporated into the Licence, and says provision must be made to ensure proper scrutiny and control of additional planning costs, which could be as high as £800 million.

Regional vice president for IATA Europe, Rafael Schvartzman, said at a Board of Airlines Representatives in the UK meeting on February 3: “It must be stressed the economic advantages [of the third runway] will be swiftly eroded if the projected costs of the project stay as they are.

“The estimated cost of £17 billion is far too much. As IATA’s director general put it in December, the UK could have built and run the 2012 Olympics twice over for that sort of money. “In short, the affordability of HAL’s scheme is our dominant concern. HAL’s charges at Heathrow are already the highest in the world.

“It is vital that today’s charge is a ceiling. We are not interested in the concept of “average flat” charges over a period of time. Britain and the world is entering a new and uncertain political and economic cycle.

“Investment in infrastructure is a sure sign that the UK is looking to future-proof itself as a competitive economy and an attractive business and tourism location. The airline industry is committed to helping generate stronger air transport links for Britain. heThe right airport infrastructure—at the right price–will keep the UK as a world-leading hub for decades to come.”

Read European fares €2.1bn higher than costs

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