UK budget carrier EasyJet is planning only to part-pay newly increased passenger fees at BAA-operated London Gatwick Airport until legal action over the charges hike has been resolved.
In a letter to new BAA chief executive Colin Matthews, EasyJet CEO Andy Harrison says he will withhold an undisclosed portion of the fees in a separate account pending the outcome of a judicial review against Gatwick’s price regulator, the UK Civil Aviation Authority.
Several UK carriers have reacted angrily over the CAA’s decision to permit the 21% passenger charges hike for 2008-09, which took effect on 1 April.
Harrison’s letter, which EasyJet has made public, says: “Now that the new charging system is in force, some decisions have to be made about how you as airport operator and we as one of your biggest customers handle the situation until the court has ruled, which is likely to be some months away.
“We would prefer to do this in collaboration with you. With that in mind I would propose an interim arrangement. We will hold back a proportion – the amount is to be agreed – of the £6.97 ($11.04) you have been permitted to charge for each passenger at Gatwick. We will keep the money in a separate account.
“To the extent that our challenge fails, we will hand over the money withheld to you along with any interest accrued. If our challenge succeeds, and a lower charge is then set, we will implement a mechanism to return what we have saved to our customers.”
Harrison has set a 16 April deadline for BAA to agree in principle to his proposal.
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