Heathrow boss defends plans to hike charges

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HEATHROW yesterday defended its plan to hike passenger charges from next year to pay for its upgrade work.

The airport said it wants to spend £3bn between 2014 and 2019 to complete the revamp of terminal two, install more self-service check-in desks and improve punctuality.

The plans, which must be approved by the Civil Aviation Authority, will mean passenger charges will rise from £19.33 this year to £27.30 by the end of the period.

Heathrow blamed the price hike on passenger numbers that have fallen 10 per cent behind the CAA’s forecasts as the economy stuttered, leaving investors with “an unsustainably low return”, according to chief executive Colin Matthews.

British Airways, Heathrow’s biggest airline, said that fees have already trebled over the past 11 years.

“The charges must be reduced significantly over the coming years, especially when the airport is cutting investment by around 25 per cent from next year onwards,” said a spokesperson.

Virgin Atlantic argued that the airport can improve its facilities “without a repeat of the incredibly steep price rises we have seen in airport charges in the last few years”.