Virgin Atlantic is to withhold their landing fees from Heathrow, after the chaos and disruption caused by the airports shutdown last month due to heavy snowfall.
The airline, owned by Sir Richard Branson, said it does not intend to pay their landing and parking fee as of January 1st. They will withhold the fees until they see the results of an internal inquiry into the disruption.
The BAA-owned Heathrow airport ground to a halt for several days in the run up to Christmas, as a result of heavy snowfall and freezing conditions which led to icy runways and jet stands. This chaos left tens of thousands of passengers stranded at Heathrow.
Virgin chief executive, Steve Ridgway, claims: ‘While we accept, and indeed we did, step up to our responsibilities to look after our customers, we feel they should also feel some of that accountability.’
The fees that Virgin are withholding are rumored to be less than £10 million, with BAA’s inquiry due to be published in March.
Steve Ridgway adds: ‘We want this inquiry to really focus on what happened and when the airport reasonably should have reopened and then we want compensation for all the costs we unnecessarily incurred after that.’
‘We’re going to do that by holding back the fees we pay BAA and when the inquiry comes out we will happily sit down and work out what the right numbers are.’
An enquiry into the shutdown was launched last month by BAA chief executive Colin Matthews. He also announced he would not be taking his annual bonus this year as a result of the chaos.
In response to Virgin’s announcement, Spanish owned BAA said: ‘Heathrow’s conditions of use do not provide any basis for Virgin Atlantic or any other airline to withhold airport charges.’