With 95% of the global economy within range of a direct flight from Heathrow, the measures form part of a package of commitments designed to connect the UK’s nations and regions to growth markets around the world. The proposed discount would be supported by increasing the total share of airport landing charges recovered through noise and emissions, adding further incentives for airlines to operate the quietest and cleanest aircraft from Heathrow.
As a consequence of Heathrow operating at maximum capacity, domestic connectivity from the airport has fallen over the years, from 18 routes served in 1990 to just seven today.
In its recent report on improving domestic air links with expansion in the South East, the National Connectivity Taskforce identified the need to make routes to regional airports more attractive to airlines.
The proposals look to meet the Task Force’s recommendations as part of its regular five-year review cycle of Heathrow’s charging structure, whilst also seeking to encourage better utilisation of European slots. They include supporting domestic routes by reducing departing passenger charges by £10; encouraging cleaner, quieter planes by increasing environmental charges from 21% to 28% of total airport charges; and maintaining a 25% discount on departing passenger charges for passengers transferring through Heathrow.
The proposed domestic passenger charge discount forms part of a new package of commitments made in response to the National Connectivity Taskforce’s recommendations. Alongside the review, which takes place prior to expansion, they include measures deliverable after expansion including the establishment of a £10m route development fund for airlines to support five new routes for three years, and partnering with UK airports, LEPs, Chambers of Commerce, national and regional governments to work with airlines to establish new domestic routes through Heathrow.
“We’re serious when we say Heathrow is committed to making sure that businesses across Britain can benefit from the connections to growth markets that only the UK’s hub can provide, whilst incentivising only the quietest and cleanest planes to operate from Heathrow,” said Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye.
“Our proposal to cut passenger charges by a third for domestic services will help us continue to drive the tourism, exports, inbound tourism and foreign direct investment that supports economic growth across the whole of the UK.”