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Fury As Airport To Charge For Empty Flight Seats

Airlines are furious at plans by Heathrow Airport to increase charges for planes flying with empty seats and older aircraft.

They are to increase the fees in an effort to remain competitive with their European counterparts and to reflect environmental issues.

Heathrow Airport

Airlines pay landing and departure taxes for the use of the airports and Heathrow are planning on increasing departure fees from £220 to £1,000 and when it comes to landing charges, the aircraft emissions will count for 15% of the fees as opposed to the current 10%, according to a report in the Financial Times.

There will be discounts available and these will be given to aircraft carrying transferring passengers and those that make less noise. Charges for domestic flights are also going up.

British Airways (BA) could be hit hard by the increase as they account for 40% of the traffic that passes through Heathrow Airport on a daily basis, making it the airports largest user.

A spokesperson for BA admitted that whilst they could understand why the increases were needed, they did have a few concerns, stating “For example, we believe that the increase in passenger charges for domestic customers will result in a decline in passenger numbers from regional airports which is clearly not the objective of the regime change.”

The news will come as a blow to BA who has just announced pre tax profits for the first six months of the year at £158m. Relentless cost cutting, increased ticket prices; no discounting and the return of the business class traveller have all been hailed as reasons for their profit, the first in two years.

It has been a difficult trading year for the airline following the fallout from the ash cloud in March and a series of Cabin Crew strikes, BA chief executive Willie Walsh also criticised the governments’ recent hike in Air Passenger Duty (APD) which will see the tax to some long haul destinations rise by up to 50%.