MIAMI – London Heathrow Airport (LHR) announced a new £8.90 (US$12.40) Airport Cost Recovery Charge on departing passengers, in order to cover the costs of the COVID-19 pandemic on air travel.

The tariff is permitted under a protocol from the UK’s aviation regulator, which allows the airport to cover costs for utilities, baggage, and check-in services. While the airport will not profit directly from the tariff, it will cover operating and maintenance expenses.

The tariff will remain in place for the rest of the year. Heathrow will also charge a £4.44 tariff for each item of passenger luggage

A British Airways Boeing 777-336. London-Heathrow is one of British Airways’ two main hubs. Photo Credit: Aaron Davis/Airways

A Lack of Airport Testing Programs

Airports all over the world are suffering business losses due to COVID-19, and LHR has been hit especially hard. The largest airport in the UK relies on long-haul markets that have been almost entirely wiped out, and passenger traffic to the airport plummeted by 73% in 2020. This decline cost the airport £2bn and left it unable to support some services.

Last November, airport executives blamed the UK government for the decline, citing the lack of an airport testing program at the time.

“[The] lack of government action is weakening our sector,” John Holland-Kaye, Chief Executive at Heathrow, said last November. “[It is] making it harder for us to support the eventual economic recovery.”

The Civil Aviation Authority is currently determining whether the airline is walking a thin line with this new tariff. Specifically, the Authority is looking into whether the airport is allowed to raise the fees it charges airlines on a limited basis, prior to a longer-term regulatory settlement that starts next year. Heathrow is seeking an adjustment that would lift fares by 1.20 pounds per traveler.

Featured image: London Heathrow Airport