MIAMI – If proposed airport fee increases are enforced, British Airways (BA) would consider eliminating London Heathrow Airport flights (LHR), according to the airline’s parent company’s CEO.

The rates at LHR, according to IAG chief executive Luis Gallego, are already among the highest in the world and are becoming more and more expensive.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said in October that it would boost the airport’s average passenger charge ceiling by up to 76%, from £19.60 to between £24.50 and £34.40.

London Heathrow Terminal 5. Photo: LHR.

Comments from IAG Chief

According to, Mr. Gallego said LHR gives the UK’s aviation sector a “major advantage,” but warned, “we need to attract demand to stay competitive.”

“The reality is that more than 40% of the people who use Heathrow are connecting passengers. They are simply passing through on their way to other destinations and could easily go by other, more competitive hubs,” IAG’s CEO told the Airlines 2021 conference in Westminster.

Gallego then drilled his point, “Hiking charges will not help. It will not attract demand – it will have the opposite effect. If the rise in landing charges goes ahead, I know IAG will not be alone in reconsidering our airlines’ use of Heathrow.”

British Airways Concorde in early BA livery at London-Heathrow Airport, in the early 1980s. Photo: Plismo – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

A Long History at Heathrow

The move would be remarkable, to say the least. Since 1974, the BA brand is almost synonymous with its West London hub, considering the carrier’s Concorde years and the regular transatlantic New York route.

While BA also serves out of Gatwick Airport (LGW) and London City Airport (LCY), today, it is LHR that is dominated by the iconic airline, which owns 40% of the slots available at the airport, the majority located at Terminal 5.

British Airways is the largest airline based in the UK in terms of fleet size, international flights, and international destinations and was, until 2008, the largest airline by passenger numbers.

Featured image: British Airways Boeing 777 departing LHR Photo: Milan Witham/Airways