Sunday 28 February 2021 2:07 pm

Heathrow's new pandemic tax pushes up flight prices

Heathrow Airport has added a new charge on all outbound flights in a move that will make flights more expensive.

The airport will be charging £8.90 extra to all outbound flights from April in what the airport is calling a United Kingdom Exceptional Regulatory Charge.

Read more: Heathrow plummets to £2bn loss in ‘toughest year in airport’s history’

It comes after Heathrow posted a £2bn annual loss earlier this week, with chief executive John Holland-Kaye calling it the “toughest year by far” in the airport’s 75-year history.

The new charge, which was first reported by the Sunday Times, would increase airfares for a family of four by almost £50.

Other major UK airports have said they will not be implementing a similar fee.

Paul McGuinness, chair of the No Third Runway Coalition, criticised the airport for adding on the extra charge.

“Yes, aviation has dipped during the pandemic, but it’s the shambolic financial management of Heathrow – the massive borrowing, the large dividends payments to its foreign owners and the total lack of reserves – that is forcing the airport’s management into trying, by stealth, to raise these passenger tariffs,” he said.

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “Heathrow makes absolutely zero profit from these services. The price is calculated purely to cover the cost of operating and maintaining the infrastructure that supports them.”

Heathrow passenger numbers collapsed by 73 per cent to 22.1m last year, as the coronavirus crisis forced countries to close their borders and England went into its first national lockdown.

More than half of those passengers travelled in January and February last year — before the pandemic began to make its mark on the UK. By April 2020, passengers had fallen to only three per cent of 2019 levels.

The UK’s major aviation hub is hoping for passenger numbers to increase dramatically from 17 May when the government has said international travel could resume.

Read more: British Airways boosted by £2.4bn loan and pensions deal as travel restrictions keep flights grounded

However, the exact details around the resumption of air travel will only be known after the government’s travel taskforce deliberates on what Covid measures will need to be taken by airports and airlines.

The EU collectively agreed earlier this week that people will need to have proof of having the Covid vaccine to travel to the continent.

Share: