Walsh hits out over Heathrow charges

Walsh hits out over Heathrow charges

Willie Walsh has slammed Heathrow and criticised the Civil Aviation Authority in an outspoken attack on plans to raise passenger charges at Heathrow from next year.

Walsh, the former British Airways boss who now heads BA parent IAG, said Heathrow had been "grossly over-rewarded by an inefficient regulator".

"If Heathrow was [part of] a competitive market, prices would be driven down. . . But the regulator has been gamed by Heathrow in the past.

"I believe Heathrow has hoodwinked the regulator."

The IAG chief executive is angry at Heathrow applying pressure on the CAA to modify its proposal to cap annual increases in charges at Heathrow over the next five years.

He also feels the CAA's proposal to allow rises of the RPI inflation rate minus 1.3% is too generous.

The CAA is due to announce its decision on charges for 2014-19 on October 3.

Walsh said: "This is an opportunity to correct the mistakes of the past and put pressure on Heathrow to modify its performance.

"If the airport was run efficiently and management focused on efficiency it could reduce the charges to passengers."

Walsh highlighted a difference of £7 per passenger between the increased charges Heathrow is seeking and what he believes is possible.

He said: "They could get a huge slug of costs out of Heathrow. Its manpower is higher than necessary. Wages are higher and Heathrow is not as efficient as it should be in the way staff are rostered.

"It has too many people and they are paid too much.

"Passengers at Heathrow are paying more than they should and the benefits are going in higher than average rewards to shareholders.

"The regulator has to take into account what is in the best interests of passengers. We want the CAA to stand firm and not bow to pressure from Heathrow."

Walsh insisted: "Heathrow's management is part of the problem. Their incentive is getting the right regulatory outcome, not running the airport the right way."

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