The head of a consumer ground transportation watchdog is to head a new independent body set up to oversee airline charges at Heathrow.
Transport Focus chairman Jeff Halliwell has been named the chair of the Consumer Challenge Board which has been tasked with scrutinising the London hub to ensure its business plans reflect the interests of consumers.
Jeff Halliwell was appointed by a panel comprising the Civil Aviation Authority, Heathrow and airlines that use the airport.
The CCB will have a particular focus on Heathrow’s plans for the next review of the charges airlines pay for using the airport.
The fees are regulated by the CAA as Heathrow is deemed to have substantial market power.
The current “price control” regime at Heathrow runs until the end of 2019 and the CAA recently started the review process towards establishing the charges that will be in place for 2020 onwards
While the CCB’s main focus will be reviewing plans for the charging regime for 2020 onwards, it may also consider related consumer input to plans for the development of Heathrow’s third runway.
The CCB will advise on the effectiveness of the airport’s engagement with consumers and whether their needs are sufficiently reflected in the airport’s business plans and operations.
Halliwell will lead selection of additional members to join the CCB in the coming months.
CAA consumers and markets director Richard Moriarty said: “We regulate airport charges at Heathrow to protect consumers and make sure they get a fair deal and good service when flying.
“It is therefore vital that the airport understands the needs of consumers and reflects those needs in its business plan for the coming years.
“The CCB will play a crucial role in making this happen – providing regular independent advice and challenge to Heathrow so the consumer’s voice is heard.
“Jeff brings a wealth of consumer-focused experience to the role of chair and we look forward to working closely with him and his CCB colleagues.”
Heathrow chief strategy officer Andrew Macmillan added: “Jeff and his team will independently challenge Heathrow’s consumer engagement, and we look forward to working with them to ensure that Heathrow develops plans that will exceed the expectations of passengers and airlines alike in the years ahead.”
Simon Arthur, managing director of the Heathrow Airline Operators Committee, added: “The airline community welcomes the appointment of Jeff Halliwell as the chair of the CCB.
“We look forward to working with him and Heathrow Airport in the process of the CCB ensuring that Heathrow engages with our passengers, and develops its business plans to meet the needs of the many passengers who travel on our services in and out of Heathrow.”
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