MARK PILLING LONDON
In the two months since IATA pleaded for airports either to freeze or reduce charges to aid its members, it has seen a mixed reaction from Europe's hubs.
Some, like UK airport operator BAA, Copenhagen and Vienna, have responded with cuts and freezes – but others are pressing on with price-hikes despite IATA pressure. In general it has been airports on the fringes of Europe that have made the greatest efforts, with the more-congested central hubs going ahead with increases.
Copenhagen airport has reduced its landing fees for intercontinental flights by 10% between the start of December and the end of March, says Merete Roende, vice-president airline relations. "This is in spite of the increase in costs at the airport, such as insurance and security. We have also decided not to raise our charges for 2002."
Other airports which are proposing positive measures for airlines are Vienna (which, although one of Europe's most expensive airports, has reduced landing fees by 3%) and Amsterdam Schiphol, which is planning to cut rates for jets by 4.5% from April.
However, according to IATA, this cut will be more than cancelled out by the Dutch airport's proposed 20%hike in its passenger service charge due to added security measures.
BAA, which operates the three largest London airports, is discussing its new rates, valid from April, with airlines. Although a final decision has not yet been reached, it is likely prices will be frozen at 2001 levels, says BAA.
Cyprus and Morocco, countries where tourist traffic has been hit hard, have gone even further. Cyprus has waived landing fees for all flights between January and April, while Morocco has waived charges for all charter carriers.
IATA's calls have failed to influence AENA, which manages the Spanish airport network, Aeroports de Paris (ADP), which operates Charles de Gaulle and Orly, and Frankfurt airport. AENA has proposed a 2.4% increase, ADP wants to raise fees by 5.5%, and Frankfurt wants 3.2%. "It is very difficult to reduce fees," says ADP. "Airports are also in a bad situation, and we have alot of investment to plan and pay for, without any state money." Munich airport deferred its approved 2.5% increase in charges from October to December, to "demonstrate our solidarity with the airlines", said chief executive Willi Hermsen.
However, the airport, which has seen a host of long-haul service cancellations especially to the USA, could not defer the increase past December.
Source: Airline Business