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Heathrow Airport charges set to be cut in good news for passengers

Simon Calder’s Travel

Heathrow Airport’s passenger charges for the next two years could be cut by 6%, a regulator has announced.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said it is proposing to adjust the caps on charges it previously set for 2025 and 2026 following a “re-examination” of its decision in March last year.

Charges are paid by airlines but are generally passed on to passengers in air fares.

If the proposals are implemented following a six-week consultation, average charges per passenger would be cut by around £1.52 to £23.72 in 2025, and by £1.58 to £23.70 in 2026.

This comes after the Competition and Markets Authority ordered the CAA to reconsider some aspects of its decision.

The CAA looked again at the airport’s revenues during coronavirus lockdowns, as well as the impact of its debt and pension costs.

The average charge per passenger was £31.57 in 2022 and 2023, and was forecast to be £25.43 this year.

The news comes as a study revealed flight punctuality at UK airports was significantly below pre-pandemic levels last year despite a surge in air fares.

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) figures show just 64% of flights departed or arrived within 15 minutes of the scheduled time in 2023.

That is up from 63% during the previous 12 months, but down from the pre-coronavirus level of 75% in 2019.

Charges are paid by airlines but are generally passed on to passengers in air fares (Steve Parsons/PA)

(PA Wire)

One of the biggest challenges to punctuality last year was air traffic control disruption in the UK and across Europe.

System failures, staff shortages and strike action affected flights throughout 2023.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show average air fares for flights to and from the UK between July and September 2023 were 24% more expensive than the same period a year earlier.

Last month, Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary predicted the airline’s tickets will be up to 10% more expensive this summer compared with last year due to delays in the delivery of new planes from Boeing.

The CAA said it is “reminding airports and airlines of their obligations to passengers”.

Depending on the length of a flight delay, passengers may be entitled to support such as food and drink, overnight accommodation, alternative travel arrangements and compensation.

In the final three months of the year, the airport with the worst punctuality was Gatwick,…

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