BAA aims for fairer exchange facilities

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TRAVELLERS changing their money at airport terminals should soon get the same rates being offered in the High Street.

The terms offered to the bureaux de change operating at the terminals are being renegotiated so that they will no longer be allowed to charge penal rates compared with the High Street.

The bureax will not be worse off under the new deal, which should be in place by November. The cost of the change will be borne by British Airports Authority, which runs the airports and is keen to promote them as a fair place to shop.

It has been running advertising campaigns along the lines of: 'Fair prices at Heathrow and that's guaranteed', pointing out that a Tie Rack tie or Our Price record bought at Heathrow will cost the same as one of those items bought in any of the other branches of the chain.

But the one transaction - one that is almost obligatory for foreign travellers - that has not offered the same value as the High Street is money changing.

The concessions at the terminals - Thomas Cook, Travelex, Travelcare and International Currency Exchange - are allowed to charge up to 1 per cent more than the rate offered by one of the Big Four clearing banks.

For instance, earlier this week Thomas Cook's rate for selling dollars was dollars 1.864 to the pound at the airports and dollars 1.882 in High Street branches, and the higher rate for buying back dollars was dollars 2.025 to the pound in the High Street or dollars 2.045 at the airports - the full 1 per cent difference.

The airport bureaux are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and so are more expensive to operate than High Street outlets.

Lloyd Dorfman, chief executive of Travelex, which operates at Heathrow, Gatwick, London City Airport, Birmingham and Aberdeen airports, said: 'In the spirit of maximising customer value for money, I think it is a great step forward.'

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