Air fares poised to increase as airline charges hiked

Air fares are set to increase further as the UK aviation authority has upped the costs airline pay to fund air traffic control.

Each plane will have to pay an additional £17 a journey after the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) increased the contribution from £47 to £64 per aircraft.

It follows hundreds of flight cancellations and long delays in August as the National Air Traffic Services (NATS) reported a “technical issue” which affected its flight planning system. An independent review into the events is taking place.

The air traffic control operator, called NERL (NATS En Route Limited), is attempting to recover revenue that was lost during the pandemic when air travel came to a standstill and fund high-quality service levels in the future.

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It is expected the extra cost will rise by around 43 pence and work out to around £2.08 per passenger per flight.

The cost of travelling by plane has already increased as inflation and high energy bills led carriers to hike prices.

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Europe’s largest airline, Ryanair, brought fares to 10% higher than pre-pandemic times in the 12 months to 31 March this year.

The airline trade body, Airline UK, said the hike was “another kick in the teeth for passengers” who will “inevitably end up footing the bill of millions of pounds for increases”.

This increase “cannot be justified”, it said.

“It is clear that a wider independent review into how NATS is regulated is needed to protect passengers and ensure that airlines are not always forced to act as the insurer of last resort and bear millions of pounds of costs for failures that are not their fault”.

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Heathrow’s chief financial officer, Javier Echave, welcomed the CAA’s recognising the importance of investing in air traffic control and said the £2 price increase per passenger per flight is

Heathrow Airport’s finance chief, however, told Sky News the price rise was justified.

“National infrastructure is critical for the success of, for the connectivity, the country”, Javier Echave.

“It’s good to hear that the CAA recognises it’s important to invest in service and resilience.”

Compared to the amount flights have become more expensive, the £2 per passenger per flight sum was said to be “reasonable”.