The recent decision by the UK’s aviation regulator to increase air traffic control charges has sparked outrage among airlines, who argue that the higher costs cannot be justified in light of the disruptions caused by the August IT meltdown.
In August, the National Air Traffic Services (Nats) experienced a system failure that resulted in the cancellation of around 2,000 flights and left thousands of passengers stranded. Airlines incurred significant costs to provide accommodations and arrange alternative flights for affected customers. However, Nats has confirmed that it will not directly reimburse airlines for these expenses.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has allowed Nats to increase its charges from £47 to £64 per flight until 2027. This will result in an average increase of £2.08 per passenger. Airlines, including British Airways, EasyJet, Ryanair, and Virgin Atlantic, argue that passengers will ultimately bear the burden of these increased costs through higher fares.
Tim Alderslade, the chief executive of Airlines UK, has called for a wider independent review of Nats’ regulation to protect passengers and ensure that airlines are not forced to bear the costs of failures that are not their fault. The CAA has stated that its decision to increase charges will enable Nats to recover its operating costs and maintain a safe operation.
The aviation industry is concerned about the lack of alternatives to Nats, which is a monopoly in the UK. This leaves airlines with no choice but to accept the increased charges. Tim Jeans, an aviation executive and former managing director at Monarch Airlines, believes that the CAA’s decision will not be well-received by the industry.
Passengers whose flights are cancelled have certain rights, regardless of whether they are flying from a UK airport, arriving at a UK airport on an EU or UK airline, or arriving at an EU airport on a UK airline. These rights include the choice of a refund or alternative flight, full refund of return tickets if either leg is cancelled, and the right to be booked on another airline or suitable mode of transport if it will significantly shorten the travel time.
In conclusion, the decision to increase air traffic control charges in the UK has sparked fury among airlines, who argue that the recent disruptions caused by the IT meltdown make the increase unjustifiable. Passengers may ultimately face higher fares as a result, and the industry is calling for a wider independent review of Nats’ regulation to protect their interests.