Heathrow has been fined £1.6 million for restricting competition on parking prices at one of the airport’s hotels.
The fine from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is over an agreement with Arora Group for the lease of the Sofitel hotel at Heathrow’s Terminal 5.
A CMA investigation revealed there was a clause in the lease between Heathrow and Arora restricting how parking prices should be set by Arora for non-hotel guests.
The CMA said that both Heathrow and Arora had breached competition laws – a decision that has been formally accepted by both companies with Heathrow paying the £1.6 million fine.
Arora will not be fined after being granted immunity for coming forward under the CMA’s leniency programme.
The CMA has also sent letters to other airports and hotel operators to warn them against similar anti-competitive agreements.
Ann Pope, senior director for antitrust at the CMA, said: “Airport car parking charges are paid by millions of people and any agreements to restrict price competition are not acceptable.
“Competition law applies to land agreements at airport car parks in the same way as any other type of business arrangement.
“This fine should act as a strong warning to all companies that the CMA will take action to make sure businesses are free to compete on price.”
A Heathrow spokesperson said: “We have cooperated fully with the CMA throughout its investigation, reflecting our clear and unequivocal commitment to competition law compliance.
“The CMA has found that the Arora Group and the company were parties to an anti-competitive agreement concluded in 2005. This revolved around a historically negotiated provision which pre-dates our current management and shareholders.
“The matter relates to the price the Sofitel could charge for a very small proportion of the car parking offered at that hotel.
“We believe that the provision was never monitored or enforced and, as such, there would have been no impact on Heathrow’s customers or the Sofitel.”