So consumed are US airports with the looming short-term budget crisis that they will not accept the recently begun airline assault on airports fees and hit back with more than a dismissive remark or two of their own. David Plavin, president of Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA), says that "silly rhetoric" does not help. Some, such as IATA director general Giovanni Bisignani, says Plavin, "continue to spout misleading rhetoric about airport charges and the financial conditions of airports".

Bisgnani denounced some airports for excessive charges at IATA's June annual meeting and just-retired Lufthansa chairman Jürgen Weber has described airports as "monopolists". Troubled carriers such as United Airlines and US Airways have embarked on a vigorous campaign to win lower airport costs. Plavin laments that airlines so far have "come to the airports and said, 'we're going down the toilet - you need to come with us'."

Plavin says that Bisignani "like several of his North American members, should cease and desist and join our discussions. Airports are prepared to lower air carrier costs and absorb functions" that airlines themselves usually perform.

San Francisco International is the only major hub to have lowered landing fees recently, but Standard and Poors' airport credit director Kurt Forsgren says "four or five others are working on similar steps", but warns lowering fees can fall foul of federal policies on rates and charges.

Gina Marie Lindsey, ACI-NA chairwoman and Seattle's managing director of aviation, says airports are wrestling through "this issue so that airports can 'de-link' themselves from the airlines".

Source: Airline Business