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Airlines and airports clash over fees

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Airlines call airports “connectivity disruptors”; airports fire back
When European airline chief executives met in Brussels this week, they expressed concern about “supernormal” returns at the majority of the continent’s biggest airports, using language that quickly prompted a return of fire from airports.
The airlines are members of A4E, a vocal lobby group of 16 airlines including Finnair, Norwegian, Lufthansa Group, IAG, Air France-KLM, Icelandair, TAP, Aegean and airBaltic, as well as budget carriers Ryanair and easyJet.
During the second annual A4E CEO Forum, they met to discuss “connectivity disruptors” in Europe’s aviation sector, presenting a study titled The Cost and Profitability of European Airports.
The study claims to show that European passengers pay excessive airport charges, particularly at monopoly airports and at airports operating under a Dual-Till regime, in other words where aviation and retail activities are separated.
“The European Commission’s current regulatory evaluation process is an important step in addressing the abuse of market power by some European airports,” said Thomas Reynaert, A4E’s managing director.
“We look forward to concrete outcomes from this process, proceeding to the formulation of the new legislation necessary to tackle the supernormal returns by airports, which are bad for consumers, bad for tourism, bad for national economies.”
The study also says that neither airlines nor the regulators in each EU member state are provided with sufficient transparency about airport charges.
Another new study commissioned by A4E, this time from PwC, The Economic Impact of Air Taxes in Europe, claims that abolishing all air passenger taxes in the European Economic Area would boost Europe’s GDP by €215 billion over the next 12 years and create 110,000 jobs by 2030.
The airport group ACI Europe called A4E’s claims “hollow” and “a massive lie”, saying the findings were “media-friendly, highly selective and simplistic” and “not about benefiting consumers”.
A4E’s campaign on airport charges is “all about boosting the bottom line of the major European airlines”, ACI said.
“Asked directly by the moderator at their own event whether lower airport charges would genuinely result in lower air fares – none of the airline CEOs on the airport charges panel would confirm. […] This, at a time when these airlines are actually posting record profits – on the back of improving pricing power and contained oil prices (which they do not pass onto consumers).”
TTG Nordic

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