Airline chief denounces ‘monopoly’ fee hikes, citing Heathrow


Willie Walsh, Managing Director of International Airlines Group (IAG), attends the European Aviation Summit in Brussels, Belgium on March 3, 2020. REUTERS / Johanna Geron / File Photo

LONDON, April 7 (Reuters) – Airlines will fight attempts by suppliers and airports, including Heathrow, to cover losses from the pandemic by raising fees, the new head of industry body IATA said on Wednesday, while he promised “strong and aggressive” resistance to such moves.

“Some of these guys are just acting as monopoly suppliers,” said Willie Walsh, the IAG veteran (ICAG.L) who this month took on the role of managing director of the International Air Transport Association. , representing nearly 300 airlines around the world.

“We can work on their behalf to resist the efforts of some vendors to increase costs, which is utter folly in this environment,” said Walsh – blaming air traffic controllers for missing out on opportunities to cut costs during the COVID-19 crisis.

As managing director of British Airways and then of its parent company IAG, Walsh has often clashed at Heathrow over accusations. On Wednesday, he pointed to the price increases requested by London airport for criticism.

“It’s airports like Heathrow that have made it clear that they want to try to recoup lost revenue,” Walsh said, also accusing him of seeking to pass on the costs of a politically heavy attempt to add a third runway.

“We expect the UK regulator to take a stand, especially when trying to recoup the money spent on the development of a third track that has not really been supported by the industry,” he said. -he declares.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Heathrow said its fees had fallen by a quarter even as customer satisfaction rose over the past seven years.

“The UK aviation industry has never been so united to work tirelessly to safely restart international travel as soon as possible,” an airport spokesperson said.

“We urge Mr. Walsh to build on this unity in working with us to decarbonize global aviation once travel resumes.”

Walsh issued a more relaxed note on the consolidation of the aircraft market resulting from the acquisition of rival GECAS by rental giant AerCap.

His immediate predecessor at IATA, Alexandre de Juniac, said last month that the tie-up was “not good news” for airlines and could lead to higher costs. Read more

But Walsh said the aircraft rental business was a “fairly fragmented industry” even after the merger.

“I am not concerned about consolidation in the rental industry,” he said, adding that the sale and leaseback agreements had helped airlines monetize their assets during the travel crisis.

“In many cases, donors were part of the solution to the cash flow crisis that airlines faced until 2020,” Walsh said.

Reporting by Laurence Frost and Sarah Young; Editing by Kate Holton

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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