Gatwick and Heathrow passengers could face 'congestion charge'

Gatwick and Heathrow passengers could face congestion charge

Passengers who choose to travel from Heathrow or Gatwick airports could be hit with a 'congestion charge', in a bid to encourage them to use other airports instead.

The Daily Mail reports that a study by HM Revenue and Customs found that the number of passengers flying from Heathrow would fall from 23.1 million a year to 18.9 million if a premium rate of tax was added to their ticket price.

As a result, the Government is now investigating whether this could help to ease congestion from the UK's two busiest airports.

The Telegraph reports that Heathrow is already full to capacity and Gatwick will be the same in six years time. London City Airport is expected to be saturated by 2021, Stansted in 2028 and Luton in 2029.

According to The Telegraph, increasing rates of Air Passenger Duty, so that passengers would pay 50 per cent more if they flew from Heathrow or Gatwick, would add £32.50 to the cost of an economy class flight to New York.

It is expected that this would lead to an increase in passenger numbers at Luton, Stansted and Birmingham airports.

Although Birmingham Airport backs the idea, Heathrow is concerned about the impact this would have on Britain's trade.

A BAA spokesperson told the Daily Telegraph: "Long-haul flights forced out of Heathrow by the higher taxes would not go to other UK airports - they would go to our European competitors in Paris, Frankfurt or Amsterdam. The economic growth and trade deals that come with these flights would then benefit Europe, not the UK."

A commission will present its thoughts on how London can deal with its capacity issues later this year. This will explore the possibilities of applying for a second runway to be built at Gatwick Airport after a previous ban expires in 2019, as well as the feasibility of building a new airport in the Thames Estuary.

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Gatwick and Heathrow passengers could face 'congestion charge'

Flickr/Yvon from Ottawa. Used under Creative Commons license 2.0

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