The Civil Aviation Authority is to investigate a complaint by Bmi against Heathrow airport, in which the carrier claims it is being discriminated against regarding increases in charges for domestic routes.
Bmi says the new charging structure, which came into effect on April 1, has resulted in an increase in per passenger charges for domestic routes of over 50 per cent, to bring them in line with European services.
The carrier first announced its intentions to challenge the increased charges late last year (see online news November 4, 2010), and the recently-published consultation document by the CAA states that:
“Bmi made a complaint to the CAA on 28 January 2011 against Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL). Bmi expressed concern that in deciding on its structure of airport charges from 1 April 2011, HAL had breached the provisions of Section 41 (S41) of the Airports Act 1986 (the Act) in the following respects:
a) HAL unreasonably discriminated against Bmi and passengers on domestic routes by equalising domestic and EU passenger charges;
b) HAL unreasonably discriminated against short-haul carriers (including Bmi) by basing landing charges solely on noise values; and
c) HAL unfairly discriminated against Bmi by implementing the charging regime from 1 April 2011 instead of phasing it in gradually.”
The CAA said that following a preliminary investigation, it considers that “HAL’s justifications need to be transparently and objectively substantiated. The CAA is now formally investigating HAL’s structure of charges, and invites representations to be sent no later than 6 September”.
When raising its initial concerns last year Bmi said that “these planned higher charges are unjustifiable when domestic passengers do not use the same facilities as international passengers. The charging structure from Heathrow is therefore favouring longhaul airlines and neglects the need of local British airlines serving the domestic markets”.
Report by Mark Caswell