​Landing-charges cut to be imposed on Heathrow
June 29, 2022
UK regulators have proposed that London Heathrow airport be forced to cut its landing fees for airlines through to 2026.
The Civil Aviation Authority envisions that charges will decline from £30.19 ($37.07) to £26.31 in 2026, a 6% real-term year-on-year decline. This reflects forecast increases in passenger numbers as the recovery from Covid-19 continues, as well as the higher price cap put in place last year to reflect the challenges of the pandemic. Heathrow had argued that its charges should be raised to $41.95, a suggestion that drew outrage from airlines. IAG-owned British Airways, the largest user of Heathrow, had accused the airport of deliberately failing to ramp up its capacity in order to restrict passenger numbers and make its case for higher charges. The airline argued that fees at Heathrow were already the highest in the world, with consumers ultimately paying the price. BA cancelled around 10% of its summer services from the airport, citing a lack of capacity. John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow's chief executive, complains that the CAA "continues to underestimate what it takes to deliver a good passenger service, both in terms of the level of investment and operating costs required and the fair incentive needed for private investors to finance it". "Uncorrected, these elements of the CAA's proposal will only result in passengers getting a worse experience at Heathrow as investment in service dries up," adds Holland-Kaye. He warns that the proposals will undermine investment in the airport and harm the UK's attractiveness to private investors. The CAA, for its part, says its proposals reflect an "appropriate level" of efficiency to expect from Heathrow, while guaranteeing a return for capital providers that will ensure investment in the airport. In particular, it says the proposals will provide affordable charges for consumers, while enabling Heathrow to fund a safe, secure and resilient airport with a good passenger experience. "This includes investing in next-generation security equipment and a new baggage system for Terminal 2," which has a combined price tag of £1.3 billion. As regards baggage, Heathrow has recently suffered from high-profile problems that has wrought significant customer disruption.
"Today’s announcement is about doing the right thing for consumers. We have listened very carefully to both Heathrow Airport and the airlines who have differing views to each other about the future level of charges," states CAA chief executive Richard Moriarty. "Our independent and impartial analysis balances affordable charges for consumers, while allowing Heathrow to make the investment needed for the future.”

Spanish civil aviation head to lead Eurocontrol
June 29, 2022
The 41 member states of air traffic service provider Eurocontrol have elected Raul Medina Caballero, who is currently at the helm of Civil Aviation of Spain, as its new director general from 1 January 2023. Caballero will take over from Eamonn Brennan who has led the organisation since 2018. Brussels-based Eurocontrol works to promote the safe and seamless air traffic management across Europe, including the co-ordination and planning of air traffic management in the continent. "I would like to thank the Eurocontrol member states for the trust that they have put in me. I look forward to working with all the states as well as the stakeholders over the coming years to continue to support and improve aviation in Europe and to build on the achievements of Eamonn Brennan over the past 5 years," states Caballero.

​KLM warns government against shrinking Schiphol
June 28, 2022
Dutch airline KLM has warned that government plans to limit aircraft movements at Amsterdam Schiphol on noise and carbon grounds threatens its ability to act as a viable hub airport. In a move that appears to have blindsided KLM, the Dutch government in recent days announced that it would set an upper limit of 440,000 aircraft movements at Schiphol from November, against a previous projection of 540,000. The current limit is 500,000 . "I want to offer certainty and perspective to both the aviation sector and local residents," infrastructure minister Mark Harbers told ABC News. "This decision forms the basis for a new equilibrium. Unfortunately, it contains a difficult message for the aviation sector, which is still fully recovering from the drastic consequences of the corona pandemic." KLM complains that the plans were announced without prior discussion or consultation, and that a lack of certainty surrounding access at Schiphol threatens its own long-term investment programme in new aircraft. Furthermore, the airline argues, it threatens Schiphol's position as a major hub and gateway to Europe. "The KLM network depends on the number of destinations we serve coupled with the flight frequencies we operate," it adds. "This is because KLM and its partner airlines offer logical connections between destinations through a hub-and-spoke system operating out of Schiphol. Each flight that is cancelled has consequences for passengers arriving for connecting flights." The airline says that operating fewer flights means offering fewer connections, reducing the profitability of all routes. In turn, this will hit frequencies, eroding Schiphol's hub function. "If KLM is compelled to relinquish slots, it will have to say goodbye to its smaller aircraft to subsequently focus on 'more significant' European traffic flows operating its bigger aircraft at a lower frequency," it continues. "Other destinations will then disappear from the network. KLM's intricately connected network – currently serving 170 destinations – will then no longer be tenable. And this outcome will take shape quickly." The airline observes that demand for flights remains strong and that travellers clearly wish to travel to locations that are not easily accessible by train or car. A reduction in flying would therefore result in travellers using less efficient methods of transport, which would not benefit the environment. There is a risk that limiting movements at Schiphol will result in international companies avoiding the Netherlands while traffic flows are simply rerouted elsewhere, KLM suggests. Likewise, Schiphol airport believes the plans "now lead to great uncertainty, and much remains unclear". Committing itself to further consultation on a detailed plan for capacity at the airport, it adds: "We see that major risks are being taken with regard to the quality of the network."


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