Heathrow airline charge hikes could be trimmed after competition watchdog intervention

Future airline charge rises for airlines using Heathrow could be cut after intervention by the competition watchdog into a review by the aviation regulator.

The Civil Aviation Authority has proposed changes to fees after counter appeals by the airport and three airlines – British Airways, Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic – to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) last year.   

The CAA had determined a year ago that charges per passenger would be capped at £25.43 in 2024, £25.24 in 2025 and £25.28 in 2026.

A six-week consultation will now take place with the authority saying that charges could fall by around £1.52 in 2025 and £1.58 in 2026.

The proposed changes would lead to Heathrow’s nominal price per passenger being capped at an estimated £23.72 in 2025 and £23.70 in 2026.

While this is around six per cent lower than the charges for 2025 and 2026 that the CAA originally set, it amounts to an increase of about 3.5% “compared to what charges would have been had no changes been needed,” the regulator said.

The CAA intends to make a decision on whether to modify Heathrow’s licence this summer. Adjustments will then be spread evenly over 2025 and 2026.

“This allows Heathrow Airport Limited to reflect the decision when it consults on 2025 charges later in the year and is consistent with the requirements of the CMA’s final determination,” the CAA said.

The CMA found in October 2023 that the CAA had “struck broadly the right balance” between ensuring prices for passengers are not too high and encouraging investors to maintain and improve the airport over time. 

But it also determined that there were some “smaller issues” for the UK CAA to re-examine.

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “We will review the impact of the CAA’s latest proposals and respond to the consultation in due course.”

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