Luis Gallego, chief executive of British Airways’ (BA) owner IAG, is convinced aviation recovery will get back to pre-pandemic levels by 2023, as a result of the easing of air travel restrictions and the opening of transatlantic travel.
Speaking yesterday at the Airlines UK conference in Westminster, Gallego revealed that “transatlantic bookings have reached almost 100% of 2019 levels”.
“I expect North Atlantic routes to reach full capacity by next summer,” he said. “And we think we’ll return to pre-pandemic levels of flying in 2023.”
Gallego’s aviation recovery comments came before he took a jab at Heathrow, resuming the feud between the airline group and the London hub.
He said: “Despite this potential, Heathrow is becoming more and more expensive for airline operators to use. It’s already 44% more expensive than its European competitors and now operators could face a 50% increase in fees.”
This was not the first time IAG lambasted the airport’s decision to increase charges. Last Sunday, a coalition between Gallego, Virgin Atlantic’s chief executive Shai Weiss and IAG’s former boss Willie Walsh said the airport was “back at its old tricks.”
“The UK’s Global Britain aspirations rely on cost-efficient infrastructure. Heathrow’s plans to further increase its charges – even at the lower level that the CAA has suggested – put that in jeopardy,” they said in a letter to the Sunday Telegraph.
The airport did not take long to rebut, saying: “Passengers know when they’re getting a raw deal. A £10-15 increase in airport charges is not comparable to pushing up economy class tickets to the US to over £2,000 this Christmas, which is what some airlines are doing.
“The higher charge will enable us to deliver key investments in the next five years to protect passenger service. Just as Aldi offers great food, plenty of Brits are still very happy to shop at Waitrose and appreciate the value for money they get.”