The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has warned Heathrow Airport that future Government backing for expansion plans could depend on its engagement with major airlines.
It has also warned the airport on the importance of ‘designing in’ cost efficiency, to avoid increasing already high landing charges.
In a letter to Heathrow Airport Ltd’s (HAL) chief executive, John Holland Kaye - published on the CAA website - CAA chief executive Andrew Haines noted both that the airport’s landing charges ‘are already among the highest in the world for a major airport’ and the Government’s aspiration that they should ‘remain close to current levels’.
What a third Heathrow runway might look like
Mr Haines warned that value for money and cost efficiency must be ‘designed in’ during the design stage of the project, and that airlines using the airport ‘have an important role to play in this’.
He wrote that the CAA would expect HAL to undertake ‘thorough and meaningful’ engagement with airlines over the options for the detailed design of the scheme, covering its scope, project phasing and the expect impact of future landing charges.
In his letter, Mr Haines also set out the pitfalls for HAL if it did not engage effectively on the issue, warning that the CAA would monitor the engagment and produce a report which the transport secretary would take into account when deciding towards the end of next year whether to continue to back Heathrow expansion.
He also signalled the need to keep airlines on board, pointing out that keeping charges flat in real terms ‘is an outcome that many of the airlines hope to secure in exchange for their support for expansion’.
Mr Haines reminded Mr Holland Kaye of the importance of engaging with local communities, warning that expansion of the airport will require ‘a credible package of measures’ to deal with their concerns on issues such as compensation and airspace changes.
The letter set out the CAA’s plans to develop a framework for economic regulation of capacity expansion, including ‘the appropriate framework for the recovery of future construction costs’, with a ‘substantive consultation document’ to be published by June 2017.