BAA’s tense relationship with Ryanair is to be tested even further as the airport operator has today initiated legal proceedings against the low-cost carrier over millions in unpaid landing fees.BAA, which is owned by Spain’s Ferrovial SA, increased the fee levied on each departure and arrival at the airport on 1 April 2008, rising from £5.50 per passenger to £5.88, an increase of 7 percent.
However Ryanair reacted by saying it would not pay the higher charges at Stansted, arguing they were excessive. Ryanair’s maverick Chief Executive Michael O’Leary last month labelled BAA’s executives as “*censored*s”.
On announcing the legal action, a BAA spokesperson said: “Our charges remain within the limit we are allowed to charge by our regulator the Civil Aviation Authority.”
A Ryanair spokesperson said: “We are going to fight the action. We don’t think the fees are warranted.”
Earlier this year, easyJet, another major BAA customer, withheld several weeks of landing fees at Gatwick airport in protest over a new landing fees settlement.
However, the carrier has resumed payments and paid back the withheld fees after launching a judicial review against the CAA - which regulates the charges.
Both Ryanair and easyJet have campaigned against landing fees at Stansted, and both airlines have pulled routes from the airport in protest. As a result, passenger numbers at Stansted are in decline because budget carriers are the airport’s largest proportion of customers.