The transport select committee should ensure the Civil Aviation Authority is given powers to force Heathrow Airport to introduce competition as it expands, International Airlines Group has argued.
Willie Walsh, IAG chief executive, will stress the group’s concern when he addresses the committee today.
Heathrow Airport is engaged in lobbying to be designated as the sole promotor of terminals in the government’s National Policy Statement.
IAG believes that in the interests of competition and consumers, this should be resisted.
The government had an opportunity to open up Heathrow’s terminals to competition in the aviation act of but failed to do so, argues IAG.
In the airline group’s view, the NPS provides the perfect opportunity to remedy that failure and say explicitly that other operators can run terminals and that the CAA can enforce this.
Walsh said: “We’re calling on the transport select committee to ensure the CAA has the necessary power to act in consumers’ interests.
“It must be able to force Heathrow to let other parties design, build and run commercial facilities like terminals if it’s required to improve competition and keep costs down.
“It’s outrageous if the government enshrines Heathrow Airport as the sole provider of expansion.
“Heathrow’s cost proposals are still excessive and incredibly vague.
“There is no breakdown beyond the overall cost of £14 billion – it hasn’t even said how much it will cost to move the M25.
“The true costs are being hidden and will only be revealed after parliament votes on the NPS later this year.
“By then it will be too late.
“Heathrow will effectively have carte blanche to increase overall costs.
“If the CAA cannot force competition now, it will be further weakened in the face of an unstoppable monopoly with a green light from Government.
“We want the CAA to have go/no-go power to ensure that there is proper cost control and that any overspend is entirely at HAL’s risk and not picked from customers’ pockets.”
Ahead of today’s final evidence session of the select committee inquiry into the draft Airports National Policy Statement, Lord Paul Deighton, chairman of Heathrow Airport, spoke to reiterate not only the national importance of expansion, but also the importance of expanding in the right way for local communities and for the country.
“For passengers, an expanded Heathrow will increase competition and choice, helping to drive down fares.
“We will deliver this project while keeping airline charges as close to current levels as possible, having already stripped out £2.5 billion of costs from our initial proposals,” he said.
“We continue to welcome scrutiny of our plans.
“The inquiry, including our evidence session, and wider parliamentary scrutiny, mark important steps towards delivering expansion.”