The UK Civil Aviation Authority has approved charges increases for the BAA at Heathrow Airport by some 9% from 1 April this year, followed by increases of 5.6% above inflation for the following four years. These increases would help to pay for future airport infrastructure investment.

In total the airlines would be asked to pay 40% additional costs on top of inflation. Such costs would inevitably have to be paid for by passengers through higher fares.

"The proposed increases are excessive and unacceptable to the airlines, especially now when they are just starting to get back on their feet. In addition, the idea of paying today to use the airport in the future is absurd," said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA Director General and CEO.

Bisignani pointed out that "Air transport is going through one of the worst crises in its hundred year history and the proposed increases are counter-productive to the effort the airlines are making toward stabilisation and recovery."

The proposed charges would help BAA recover in advance its investment in future infrastructure including the planned Terminal 5. "The airlines should not be expected to pre-fund an airport's investment, nor should their passengers be asked to pay now for future services they may never use," Bisignani added.

"Airports are a low risk monopoly business with a high return on investment. They are making hefty profits when many airlines are struggling financially. To force airlines to pay in advance for airport infrastructure is an irresponsible way to behave," concluded Bisignani.