The newly launched Airlines for Europe (A4E) is urging the European Commission to review its Airport Charges Directive in light of new data that shows charges at Europe’s top airports have increased 80% over the last 10 years.
The data, compiled in a new Aviation Economics study, show that charges at the 21 largest European airports have increased 80% since 2005, and by close to 90% at the 10 largest airports.
Over the same period, inflation has increased 20%, while average airfares have decreased by 20%, according to IATA statistics.
A4E said the charges represented an extra EUR5.4 billion ($5.9 billion) cost to passengers, and said the greatest increases had been seen in Spain (up 255%), Italy (up 141%), and the UK (up 120%). The study showed that the highest charges are levied in the UK (EUR44), Switzerland (EUR38), and Germany (EUR35), but the association also pointed out airlines must collect government taxes on top of that, which are not included in those charges.
IAG Willie Walsh said: “Every financial metric you want to use way exceeds anything that has ever been achieved by the airline industry. We can’t have a situation where airport charges not just outstrip inflation, but way outstrip inflation, at a time when airfares have come down.”
A4E is urging the Commission to reform the existing Airport Charges Directive to support a more efficient and productive European economy and a more effective infrastructure for airlines.
However, with such a diverse group of airline business models, there is recognition among the members that achieving a reform of the directive that will satisfy all will be a considerable challenge.
“What we all agree on is that airport charges are too high and that the current regulation is not working,” easyJet COO Warwick Brady told ATW.
But he acknowledged that various airlines are also looking for very different outcomes from any reforms, with low-cost carriers having very different expectations from their legacy and home-base counterparts.