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New Heathrow charges will ‘squeeze passengers until the pips squeak’

Campaigners say the airport's £2.8bn losses mean a third runway is ‘out of reach’

HEATHROW airport’s new charges will “squeeze passengers until the pips squeak,” campaigners have warned.

It follows reports of tensions between the airport management and its board, who are divided over the plans to recoup more than £2.8 billion in losses from airlines and customers.

Heathrow has introduced a series of charges to claw back some revenue after an unprecedented year of losses since the start of the pandemic.

In a 20-page document, the airport outlines dozens of increased charges, including an £8.90 “airport cost recovery charge” that will be added to the cost of all flights, as well as increased baggage charges, increases in costs for persons with reduced mobility, staff car parking, staff ID passes and waste and water charges for businesses operating on the airport premises.

In February, Heathrow reported a £2bn loss in 2020, with a renewed request for financial support from government in the form of extending the furlough scheme and full relief from business rates.

The airport already carries net debt of £15.2bn as of September 2020.

Campaigners believe that it is no longer appropriate for Heathrow to be pursuing a third runway given its precarious financial position.

No 3rd Runway Coalition chairman Paul McGuinness said: “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.

“Heathrow’s absurd debt position, even before the pandemic, was always likely to put their third runway out of reach.

“And in acknowledging such a large loss in 2020, Heathrow should now concentrate on refocusing on their customers and away from their foreign shareholders’ pipe dream.”

Heathrow was approached for comment.

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