Qatar's Al Baker rejects Heathrow fees plan

Major shareholder irate over aviation watchdog's plan to impose real-terms cut in airline fees

Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways CEO and a board member of Heathrow.

Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways CEO and a board member of Heathrow.

Qatar Holding, the sovereign wealth fund that owns the second largest stake in London Heathrow Airport’s parent company, has raised objections to a plan by the British aviation regulator to impose a real-terms cut in the fees it charges airlines.

The proposal, made by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in April, demands that Heathrow increase its take-off and landing fees by an amount lower than inflation for the five years between 2014 and 2019. The move is designed to curb the airport’s “substantial market power”, the CAA said.

Akbar Al Baker, a board member at Heathrow who represents 20 percent shareholder Qatar Holding, said: “As [an] investor we need proper returns to our investment. We [will] now try to convince... the regulator that...?their perception of how they look at these challenges was maybe not correct”.

Al Baker is also CEO of Qatar Airways, but clarified that he was purely speaking on behalf of Qatar Holding, which bought its stake in Heathrow last year for £900m ($1.38bn).

Qatar Holding, a unit of Qatar Investment Authority, is the second largest shareholder in the London hub after Spanish infrastructure giant Ferrovial, which holds 33.65 percent.

Sovereign wealth funds The Government of Singapore Investment Corporation and China Investment Corporation are among other significant shareholders in the airport.

Heathrow is in July expected to make its case for building a third runway at the airport, with an estimated cost of £10bn.

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