Heathrow Airport and three major airlines have been granted permission to appeal the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)’s decision on the Heathrow price cap this afternoon.
The airlines, which are Virgin Atlantic, British Airways and Delta Air Lines, have been locked in a fierce dispute with Heathrow over the amount the airport can charge per passenger.
Both sides launched rival appeals in April against the CAA’s decision to lower the cap; the appeal process was then passed to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
The appeals followed the CAA’s confirmation in March that the levy would remain fixed at the same rate as set out earlier in the year.
The regulator had announced in January that the 2023 cap would be raised to £31.57 per passenger, up from £30.19. It will then fall about 20 per cent to £25.43 per passenger in 2024 and will remain there until 2026.
The airlines argue that Heathrow has played down its recovery from Covid, and used “knowingly undercooked and self-serving passenger forecasts,” to attempt to keep the cap, which is set based on passenger numbers, higher.
Heathrow argue that the rate should be greater, to boost investment in the airport.
A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson said of today’s decision “the CAA did not go far enough to protect consumers from excessive Heathrow charges in its final determination, demonstrating how the current regulatory framework is fundamentally broken.”
“The CAA decision contained multiple errors, including outdated passenger forecasts that fail to account for the strength of recovering demand.”
The spokesperson added: “We, along with other airlines, submitted our appeal to the CMA on 18 April so that consumers using the world’s most expensive airport are protected. Now that permission to appeal has been granted, we look forward to supporting the CMA as it considers our case.”
A CMA spokesperson said: “The CMA will now begin the formal stage of carefully considering the appeals from Heathrow Airport Limited, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Delta Air Lines.”
British Airways were contacted for comment
Heathrow declined to comment.