Airports Council International director general Robert Aaronson has hit out at the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) “distorted” view of the airport business.

Speaking at the UK Aviation Club in London, Aaronson responded to the comments made by Giovanni Bisignani, director general and chief executive of IATA at an Aviation Club meeting in April, in which he branded many airports anti-competitive and called for independent economic regulation as airport privatisations increase.

Aaronson called IATA’s claim that airports overcharge and are inefficient “sweeping” and “specious” and argued that airports have strong competitive forces to deal with and therefore “have strong incentives to continue driving greater efficiency.”

“IATA, while acknowledging that there are some exceptions, claims that airports are inefficient monopolies – treating airlines like “cash cows” – and thus needing to be more actively regulated by states. Wrong on all counts,” Aaronson added. 

Bisignani said in April that: “airports make their own commercial decision on their ownership structure. But this must not be at the expense of exploiting airlines through higher charges. Privatisation and cross-border investments could change today's monopolies into mega-monopolies and airlines will be stuck with the bill.”

Aaronson called for “constructive dialogue between airlines and airports: “we think IATA does not want airline and aiport executives to meet. It wants to control the dialogue – and get the headlines from waging a 'phoney war' against the world’s airports collectively. What we need instead is constructive dialogue".

“Direct consultation with airlines and more involvement of regional airline associations,” is needed, according to Aaronson. “In these demanding times airports and airlines need to drop the theatrics, get on with business, and truly be the best of partners, not the worst of adversaries.”

Source: Flight International