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ACI: Airports reject airline demands for subsidies

The senior executives of the world’s airports, gathered this week at their annual meeting, have rejected the…

The senior executives of the world’s airports, gathered this week at their annual meeting, have rejected the call of the airline industry for further subsidies.

The failures of some airlines sadly have brought down many others in the industry, said Ghanem Al-Hajri, Chairman of Airports Council International (ACI<.>). Airports are not the problem and should not be expected to also make financial basket cases of themselves, he said.

Allegations about airport charges and inefficiencies made this week by Giovanni Bisignani, Director General, International Air Transport Association (IATA), were immediately refuted by the Airports Council International. Airport charges have been an exceptionally stable component of airline operating costs for the last 25 years.

Data published by the International Civil Aviation Organization, ACI, and IATA itself consistently show these airport charges in the range of only 4 to 5% of airline operating expenses. Higher percentages, often cited by IATA under the term user charges, include fees for air traffic control services which are totally separate from airports. Robert J. Aaronson, ACI Director General, said with airport charges being such a small percentage of airline costs the loss-making airlines are simply avoiding the unpleasant reality of addressing much larger cost and revenue problems under their direct control which largely are the product of failed business strategies and their own inefficiencies.

Since the majority of airports are owned and operated by governmental entities, ACI believes that IATA’s attack on airport charges is a tactic in their campaign to obtain further government subsidies for failing airlines.

Airports remain very concerned about the need for their airline partners to regain financial health. ACI will continue cooperating with IATA notwithstanding its unfounded allegations about airport charges. This cooperation is absolutely essential in order to meet the needs of travelers and shippers for a secure, safe and convenient air transport system, Aaronson said.