英伦广角British Vision(107):西斯罗到底怎么了

Heathrow 'an embarrassment'

Heathrow service levels are a "national embarrassment", says international aviation chief Giovanni Bisignani

Service levels at Heathrow airport are a national embarrassment according to the international aviation chief Giovanni Bisignani. He said that UK regulators should never have allowed the airport to increase charges by a massive 86 percent over the next five years, saying that only happens in monopoly land. Airport authorities insisted the money was needed for modernization, and said £4 billion would be reinvested. But it is more bad news for Heathrow bosses, so soon after the Terminal 5 fiascos, Katie Razzall now reports.

Heathrow debating isn't exactly new. The airport and its owners BAA were under fire long before the fiasco that marked the opening of Terminal 5 after that, opposition to a third runway and the criticism is loud and fierce.

The goal is to raise the bar on safety.

Today, the head of the International Air Transport Association added his voice. At the IATA AGM in Istanbul, Mr. Bisignani dubbed Service levels at London's Heathrow airport a national embarrassment. The heavily indebted British Airport's Authority owns 7 UK airports including Heathrow. And that's the issue, says the head of the parliamentary committee that has recommended BAA be broken up.

There is a very real problem with Heathrow. And the major problem appears to be the monopoly ownership of BAA. Now controlling around 90% of flights in the Southeast, there have been many complaints from the airlines and from passengers alike.

So is Heathrow all that bad? A rating's website by travelers gives it an average 2.5 out of 5 for everything from punctuality and reserve through layout all the way to the lavatory facilities. Worst scores include Miami international with 2.3 out of 5 and Paris Charles de Gaulle. But above Heathrow, Nairobi's Kenyatta International, Athens, Bogota, New York's JFK, Rome's Fiumicino, Berlin's Tegel, Madrid's Barajas and even Chávez International in Lima amongst many others. Mr. Bisignani today also set his sights on Britain's Civil Aviation Authority, giving it the worst regulator award. His deed based on the CAA's decision to increase the charges airlines pay to use Heathrow over the next five years by 86 percent when service as he says is so poor. A decision that CAA today defended as necessary to pay for modernizations that will benefit passengers. He also represents almost all the world's major airlines. British carriers have been laying into BAA and the CAA for some time. Hardly surprising then the Virgin Atlantic for one were in agreement.

It's probably the last nail in the coffin for the regulatory system we have in this country. It is not the right system. It doesn't act in the consumers' interests. It certainly doesn't act in the airlines' interests. And as far as Heathrow is concerned, it doesn't make BAA any better, it doesn't improve standard of service.

With rising oil prices already adding to costs, the airlines say they will pass higher airport charges onto passengers. The government is reviewing airport regulation to ensure travelers aren't being overcharged. Today, BAA told Channel 4 News: BAA is committed to improving services for passengers. Over the next five years BAA will be investing over 4 billion pounds to improve and transform Heathrow's facilities. The vast majority of this will be spent on improving existing terminals and that will mean faster check-in, improved security, better baggage connections, and superior terminal facilities.

It may be immaterial, the Competition Commission is investigating the authority. In its interim report in April it said BAA's airport ownership is anti-competitive and it has the power to force a sell-off. Katie Razzall reported...

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