Passengers traveling through Heathrow Airport could be hit by an increase in charges of more than 50 percent from next month.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said the cap on the west London airport’s price per passenger will be £30.19 ($40.33) from January 1.
The current charge is £19.60 ($26.19).
Charges are paid by airlines but are generally passed on to passengers in air fares.
A decision on a long-term cap which is expected to begin in summer 2022 and run to 2027 is due to be announced early next year.
A spokesman for Heathrow, which had called for the cap to range from £32–£43 ($42–$57), said it was “extremely disappointed” in the interim figure of £30.19 ($40.33).
He claimed it “relies on rushed analysis and will undermine passenger experience” at the airport.
He went on: “There are material and basic errors in many aspects of the CAA’s assessment.
“Uncorrected, this risks leaving Heathrow without sufficient cash flow to support investment in improving passenger service and resilience.”
Luis Gallego, chief executive of British Airways’ parent company IAG, said the firm is “disappointed that Heathrow charges will increase further” as it is “already 44 percent more expensive than its European competitors.”
He continued: “After the worst crisis in aviation history we need to attract demand to stay competitive. Hiking charges will have the opposite effect. Britain will become not more competitive, but less.
“A cost-efficient Heathrow would benefit UK consumers, businesses, and trade. Global Britain needs a global and competitive hub.”
The £30.19 ($40.33) cap “reflects the uncertainty of the recovery of passenger volumes at the airport from the pandemic, particularly following the emergence of new information about the Omicron variant of COVID-19”, according to the CAA.
The cap will move up or down depending on factors such as passenger numbers and commercial revenue.
Heathrow said in September its losses from the COVID-19 pandemic had hit £3.4 billion ($4.54 billion).
Passenger numbers are around 40 percent of pre-pandemic levels.
By Neil Lancefield