British Airways’ (BA) former boss Willie Walsh alongside Luis Gallego – the chief executive of BA’s owner IAG – and Virgin Atlantic’s chief Shai Wess has lambasted Heathrow airport for its decision to increase fees.
Walsh, Weiss and Gallego, writing on the Sunday Telegraph, have criticised the London hub saying it is ‘”back at its old tricks – using its dominant market position to enrich shareholders at the expense of travellers, airlines and the UK’s economy”.
The unexpected coalition between the two rival carriers and the International Air Transport Association (IATA), where Walsh is currently director general, has claimed the 90 per cent increase in charges planned by the airport will undermine the UK Government’s plans for a Global Britain.
“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.
This is not the first time the industry has criticised Heathrow’s actions. Speaking in Dubai on Thursday, Walsh said: “In too many places we are seeing increases in taxes or infrastructure charges or both.
“The UK—a prime market for Middle East carriers—is the poster child for what not to do.
“The government is increasing Air Passenger Duty on long-haul services. And Heathrow – the main airport – wants to increase its charges by 90 per cent. And the regulator’s counterproposal of a 50% increase is no less unacceptable.”
In October, IATA’s director accused Heathrow of “no commercial nous” over the proposed increase.
Speaking at IATA annual general meeting, he said: ““What gets me about Heathrow is that they make all these fancy statements and he is on the television all the time saying all the things they’re doing for the British economy. It’s total b*******.”