Airport industry responds to airport charges allegations by big 5 airlines
Brussels, 17 June 2015:
Following remarks released by the CEOs of Air France-KLM, easyJet, IAG, Lufthansa Group and Ryanair at a joint press conference in Brussels, the European airport trade association communicates the following:
THE TRUTH ABOUT REGULATION
Airport charges are already regulated at EU level since 2007. The implementation of this regulation has been the subject of an extensive report at European level last year, still remaining a subject that is regularly monitored by the European Commission.
AIRLINES ARE ALREADY SUBSIDISED BY AIRPORTS
Airlines are NOT paying the full cost of the airport infrastructure they use – far from it. Each year, the revenues collected from airport charges levied on both airlines and passengers fall over €3 billion short of covering airports’ operating expenses, which means that not one cent of airport capital expenditure is paid for by airlines. This situation reflects the extensive competitive pressures on airports and the fact that airport competition is now a reality across Europe.
GOOD FOR THE CONSUMER?
The airlines say that reductions in airport charges at major airports, through tighter regulation, would save consumers €1.5 billion in lower fares. This is an assumption which starts from the premises that any such reduction in airport charges would be passed on 100% by airlines to passengers.
Yet, an independent sociological research has shown that at major airports, airlines are in fact able to charge passengers a significant surcharge, non-cost related with the initial charge, which makes it unlikely that an authorized reduction in airport charges to be reflected in ticket prices. So, the main reason of airlines lobbying to artificially lower airport charges is more about the benefit to airlines shareholders than to the travelling public.
This in turn, would also prevent airports from investing in expanding capacity, or at least make the cost of such expansion more onerous and the business case for it, more difficult. As a result, this lobbying ultimately also appears to be about protecting the position of incumbent airlines at major airports and limiting airline competition.
Olivier Jankovec, Director General of ACI EUROPE said “Major airlines already have a free lunch, now they also want a free dinner. Let’s get real here, airline interest does not necessarily equal consumer interest. Assuming airlines would pass mandated reductions in airport charges on to consumers is ludicrous to say the least. More than that, it flies in the face of reality – just consider the fact that most airlines do not even effectively refund airport charges and other ticket taxes to passengers who do not take their flight.” He added “We find it disappointing that the 5 biggest European airlines rely on such a suggestion as one of their main contributions to the forthcoming EU Aviation strategy.”