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19 Oct 2021

Why you may pay more to fly from Heathrow from January 2022

Surcharges are set to rise, and could be hiked again in time for summer holidays

Heathrow Airport may be allowed to charge airlines £30 per passenger - an increase of £8 - for flights from January 2022. Those increases are likely to lead to higher fares for customers, previous Which? Research suggests

The new fee, due to roll out in January 2022 will be approximately £30. That figure could change and is 'subject to consultation' according to the Civil Aviation Authority, which decides on the maximum surcharge Heathrow can bill its airlines.

In summer 2022, that fee could increase again to £34.40, as the CAA is considering bringing in a price range of £24.50 to £34.40, which will be in place for the next five years.

It's not the first time the airport has hiked surcharges in the name of economic recovery from the pandemic - back in January 2021 the airport introduced a new 'Airport Recovery Fee' of £8.90. The charge is added to the price of your flight, so you probably don't realise that you're paying it.

£50 of your fare already goes to Heathrow for some flights

While Heathrow charges airlines per passenger, previous Which? Research published in May 2021 showed these charges are typically passed on to customers via fare increases. Any proposed price to airlines from Heathrow airport is likely to come, at least in part, from consumer pockets.

When we looked at the breakdown of prices for various airlines* flying from Heathrow in May 2021, we found that it had the highest fees of the UK's major airports, charging airlines £19.36 per passenger, and a £8.90 recovery fee. The research suggested almost £50 of a long haul ticket price from Heathrow may go directly to the airport. Gatwick, by comparison, was found to be charging airlines £11.34 per passenger and no sort of airport recovery fee on fares.

These are costs airlines say airports charge them for everything from baggage screening to use of the runway. Prices were correct at the time of publication, though may have changed since we carried out the research.

HEATHROW LONG-HAUL£19.36£8.90£49**£49**£49**n/a£49**
HEATHROW SHORT-HAUL£19.36£8.90£27**n/a£27**£27**n/a
MANCHESTERDeclined to say£0£22£22£22£22£22
EDINBURGHDeclined to say£0n/a£15£20£20£20
**Includes £8.90 airport recovery fee

Why are prices increasing?

The CAA says that the charges will help to offset the u201cdevastating impact on the aviation sectoru201d caused by the pandemic, and help Heathrow u201ccontinue to appropriately invest in keeping the airport resilient, efficient and one that provides a good experience for passengersu201d.

Could airport fees increase again?

The £30 charge per passenger is an 'interim' cap - the CAA is yet to announce the actual upper limit Heathrow could be charging airlines from summer 2022. The airport originally asked the CAA to allow it to charge customers a fee between £32 and £43, and while that request to hike the upper limit by £21 was not approved, the CAA has confirmed it could raise by over £12 by summer 2022.

*Airlines included British Airways, Emirates, KLM, Norwegian Air and Virgin. Norwegian Air did not operate long haul flights from Heathrow at the time of research, and continues to operate only short haul flights from Heathrow.