The Guardian - Gwyn Topham
Airline chief Shai Weiss attacks airport’s proposal to increase landing charges by 120%
Virgin Atlantic has withdrawn its support for Heathrow’s third runway plans amid an ongoing row over the cost of flying from Britain’s biggest airport.
The carrier had been one of the most prominent airline backers of expansion before the pandemic. But on Monday its chief executive, Shai Weiss, hit out at Heathrow’s proposal to increase landing charges by 120% and called on the aviation regulator, the CAA, to reform a “broken” system and “pay closer attention to the abuse of power by a de facto monopolistic airport”.
He added: “Until that happens, it is difficult to see how expansion at Heathrow can be supported.”
The CAA said this summer Heathrow would be allowed to raise charges by 56% next year, to more than £30 a passenger, but would have to trim them by 2026 – a proposal that Heathrow said “underestimated” the need for investment.
Weiss said Heathrow’s plan to raise charges was “great for the airport and its mostly foreign shareholders” - including Qatar and China’s sovereign wealth fund – but “a bad deal for consumers, airlines, and the UK economy”.