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"British airlines call on airport operator to reimburse security costs"
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Airlines call on BAA to bear costs
By James Quinn
United Kingdom - The London Daily Telegraph
Three of Britain's biggest airlines are uniting to call on the British
Airports Authority to pay some of the £250m of costs airlines are estimated
to have incurred since the current security crisis began. The airlines are
British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and easyJet, while a fourth, BMI British
Midland, looks set to join up after saying it would not rule it out.
Ryanair, meanwhile, called on the Department for Transport to cover some of
The plea comes after five days of disruption at Britian's airports, with the
worse affected, London's Heathrow, continuing to see 20pc of flights
cancelled today. A senior industry source last night estimated the cost to
British airlines to be £50m a day, bringing the total so far to £250m. BA,
as Britain's largest airline and indeed its flag carrier, has borne a
significant amount of these.
Andrew Fitchie, Collins Stewart's airline analyst, believes that the unrest
could have cost BA £50m alone, with easyJet a further £10m. Ryanair's loss
is likely to be similar to easyJet's, while Virgin Atlantic's could soar to
as much as £15m according to other industry sources. A BA spokesman
confirmed it was likely to ask BAA for help, saying: "It is on the agenda.
We are giving it serious consideration."
BA chief executive Willie Walsh has been particularly outspoken with regard
to the situation at Heathrow, claiming over the weekend he was unhappy with
the way BAA had handled the affair.
His comments led to a heated face-to-face meeting with BAA Heathrow chief
executive Tony Douglas on Saturday evening, as revealed in yesterday's The
Daily Telegraph. Virgin Atlantic, which is 51pc-owned by Sir Richard
Branson's Virgin Group, is calling on BAA to have a sensible discussion
about who should bear the extra costs airlines have faced.
"We are considering all options for contributions to these costs," said
Virgin Atlantic's Paul Charles, "and we need a sensible debate with BAA to
work out how these costs can be shared."
Virgin, which stressed the extra costs will not be passed on to passengers,
said it expected an efficient service from BAA, even in exceptional times.
Budget airline easyJet said it would like money back from BAA. "If we felt
there was a chance to share that among a wider audience we'd leap at it,"
said an easyJet spokesman, stressing it would take some time to know exactly
what its total costs have been. Heathrow's second largest airline by flight
numbers, BMI, said it would not rule out joining the call on BAA.
Ryanair's Michael O'Leary called on the Government to pick up the tab.
A BAA spokesman would not comment specifically, saying: "Clearly we will be
talking to the airlines over the coming days and weeks on a number of
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