European airlines and airports renew dispute
18 / 10 / 2017
An event organised by Airlines for Europe (A4E) has seen the region’s carriers and airports renew their bitter dispute over airport charges.
At the event, chief executives of A4E member airlines presented the final results of a York Aviation study on the cost and profitability of European airports as carriers continue to accuse hubs of charging too much.
A4E managing director Thomas Reynaert said: “The European Commission’s (EC) current regulatory evaluation process is an important step in addressing the abuse of market power by some European Airports.
"We look forward to concrete outcomes from this process, proceeding to the formulation of the new legislation necessary to tackle the supernormal returns by airports, which are bad for consumers, bad for tourism, bad for national economies.
"We call on the EC to accelerate its evaluation. We must proceed now from analysis to action."
The report found that average earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) margin of York Aviation’s sample of airports was 46%, which is significantly higher than the 23% margin of the top 100 airports referred to by the EC in its 2015 Aviation Strategy.
This indicates "the extraordinary levels of profitability of Europe’s largest airports", A4E said.
Hitting back, Airports Council International Europe (ACI Europe) said the findings were "media-friendly, highly selective and simplistic, but these ‘revelations’ are not about benefitting consumers".
It said that during a panel discussion at the event airline executives would not confirm whether lower airport charges would be passed through to consumers.
Olivier Jankovec, Director General of ACI EUROPE said: "Calling airports ‘connectivity disruptors’ as A4E did today, is not just insulting – it is a massive lie.
"Developing diverse air connectivity is at the very core of airports’ social and business mandates. We aim to provide air travellers with more choice.
"This is precisely why airports in Europe are perpetually chasing airlines, offering incentives such as rebates on airport charges and marketing support to entice them to develop new routes and add more frequencies from their own location.”
ACI Europe also hit out at A4E for "basing their allegations" on ebitda margins.
"For a capital intensive sector like airports, Ebitda is a rather selective and not necessarily appropriate way of measuring financial performance," it said.
A4E has 15 members include Cargolux, IAG, Air France-KLM, Lufthansa, easyjet and Ryanair, Jet2.com, Norwegian, Volotea and Finnair.
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