IATA chief executive Tony Tyler has called for a renewed agenda of co-operation with airports and is to work together with Airports Council International and navigation body CANSO to explore areas of common interest.
Tyler and ACI Airport director general Angela Gittens outlined the new co-operation initiative at a briefing in Marrekech, where Tyler had been addressing delegates at the ACI World annual general assembly.
"Quite often the public perspective is that we are at odds with each other. So we think this will help to dispel that and to work together," said Gittens. "We will try and figure out some joint projects we can work on, in addition to the ways in which we already work together."
Tyler added: "Airlines and airports are extremely important partners. Some times we are perceived to be more daggers drawn than natural partners - and there will obviously be tensions there. But we resolve these issues and there is far more we have in common than divides us. The more we can co-operate and work together, the better for everyone."
Charges have been at the heart of some of the previous airline and airport relationship flashpoints. "We don't begrudge airports making a return on investment. The important point is they should be consulting with the users before they are adjusting or raising charges. Most airports get it. But ultimately each airport, like each airline, is its own entity," said Tyler, who took over from Giovanni Bisignani in the summer.
He had earlier told delegates the need for ever-more cost-efficient airports was on his radar screen. "My style in approaching these issues will be my own. And I will continue to work with IATA's team of charges experts to produce even more productive results by innovating the focus of our dialogue in four important areas," he said. These include citing airline engagement in capital expenditure development, a more transparent consultant process, long-term charges deals including service level agreements and the development of risk-sharing concepts.
"But charges are only one aspect of our relationship. Without diminishing their importance, it must also be understood that they are not the whole story. The dialogue between airlines and airports must be re-balanced with a forward-looking focus. Today I am proposing a common agenda that builds on past successes and puts innovation at the heart of the many issues that we have in common.
Gittens and Tyler said combating increased taxation was one area of common interest between the two, and Tyler noted the ACI World resolution during the current general assembly calling on moves to tackle aviation emission to be tackled through ICAO. "But there are a whole range of areas - safety, passenger facilitation, security - where we have common interest," Tyler added.