Raising airport charges will hamper air travel post-pandemic recovery

KUALA LUMPUR: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) warned that airports and air navigation service providers’ (ANSPs) plans to increase charges will stall air travel recovery and damage international connectivity.

It said the increase in charges by airports and ANSPs have already reached $2.3 billion, and the amount could multiply by tenfold if the proposals by airports and ANSPs are approved.

IATA director-general Willie Walsh emphasised that air transport is critical to support post-pandemic economic recovery.

“A $2.3 billion charges increase during this crisis is outrageous.

“We all want to put Covid-19 behind us, but placing the financial burden of a crisis of apocalyptic proportions on the backs of your customers, just because you can, is a commercial strategy that only a monopoly could dream up,” he said in a statement today.

According to IATA, ANSPs of the 29 Eurocontrol states — the majority of which are state-owned — are looking to recoup almost $9.3 billion ($1=RM4.17) from airlines to cover revenues not realised in 2020/2021.

“They want to do this to recover the revenue and profits they missed when airlines were unable to fly during the pandemic.

“Moreover, they want to do this in addition to a 40 per cent increase planned for 2022 alone,” it said.

It noted that Heathrow Airport is pushing to increase its charges by over 90 per cent in 2022, while Amsterdam Schiphol Airport has requested to increase charges by over 40 per cent over the next three years.

“This must stop if the industry is to have a fair opportunity at recovery. Infrastructure shareholders, governmental or private, have benefited from stable returns pre-crisis, and they must now play their part in the recovery.

“It is unacceptable behaviour to benefit from your customers during good times and stick it to them in bad times. We should not compromise the recovery with the irresponsibility and greed of some of our partners who have not addressed costs or tapped their shareholders for support,” said Walsh.

The association said, instead of raising charges, airports and ANSPs should look to other avenues to address the financial impact of the pandemic, including implementing sustainable cost control measures, tapping shareholders and accessing capital markets. – Bernama