AIR Berlin and Germania Express have unilaterally cut the charges paid to Berlin International Airports (BIA) for their services at Schoenefeld airport to 61 eurocents (¢80) per passenger, the rate they believe rival easyJet is paying. Both carriers were paying substantially more, with Air Berlin saying its handful of flights were being charged at €21 per passenger.

Their move follows a court case Air Berlin won against BIA in October when it complained about what it saw as an unfair disparity in charges. Following the case, talks between BIA and the airlines to settle the dispute started, but with no resolution in sight the carriers chose to reduce their payments to easyJet's levels.

BIA disputes the court's ruling and has appealed. "BIA has a very modern fee system at Schoenefeld with incentives for those that fly more to stimulate the market," says the airport group, which also runs the city's Tegel and Tempelhof airports. The airport says the rate easyJet has obtained at Schoenefeld is available to any other carrier with a similarly sized operation. "Those who fly more, pay less,"it says. EasyJet only established a base at Schoenefeld in May 2004, but has quickly expanded to serve 20 routes from the airport with four more planned.

Source: Airline Business