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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Qatar Airways CEO opposes ‘unreasonable’ Heathrow airport plan to increase prices


Akbar Al Baker has rejected Heathrow Airport’s plan to raise billions of dollars to make up for losses by increasing prices.

Tensions are brewing among officials and stakeholders at Heathrow Airport’s boardroom over plans to raise billions in funds from both airlines and customers by increasing airport prices, British media reports reveal.

The airport’s plan to raise $3.8 billion to make up for losses caused by the global Covid-19 pandemic was met with fierce opposition, including from the CEO of Qatar Airways Akbar Al Baker, who is Heathrow’s second biggest shareholder.

Al Baker, a representative for the State of Qatar on Heathrow’s board of directors, said the move is “unreasonable, not in the consumer interest and should be rejected.”

The decision to raise prices would be unfair as it would “shift the risk created by the pandemic on to the consumer,” he added.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) had also voiced rejection of the airport’s demand to alter a complex regulatory setup, although the demands are subject to an industry consultation.

Industry sources said the CAA met to finalise their decision on the matter and that an announcement is expected soon.

Read also: Latest Qatar-UK travel changes: All your questions answered

A Heathrow spokesperson told British media that a regulatory adjustment is needed to ultimately reduce prices for consumers.

“The devastating impacts of Covid-19 could never have been imagined. We’re simply asking the CAA to fulfil its duties and do the same. As evidenced by the submission, Qatar Airways is not a Heathrow shareholder,” the spokesperson added.

Travel bans and quarantine rules have caused a financial hit to the airport, seeing its lowest passenger volume since the 1960s and a pretax loss of $2.7 billion.

In 2020, Heathrow posted a $2.7 billion(£2 billion) pretax loss.

Last month, British authorities added Qatar onto the country’s red list as part of strict measures to help contain surging cases in the UK, which included a temporary ban of direct flights from Qatar to England.

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