(Brussels) - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) appealed to Jacques Barrot, Vice President of the European Commission and Commissioner responsible for Transport and Energy, for a Directive on robust national economic regulation of Europe’s airports.

“An efficient air transport sector is critical for Europe to achieve its Lisbon Agenda goal to become the world’s most dynamic economy. For Europe’s airlines, the Lisbon Agenda was do or die. Europe’s airlines have achieved a 9% reduction in aircraft operating costs, a 24% reduction in distribution and back office costs and a 14% increase in pilot productivity. Airports, on the other hand, gave the airlines a 13% increase in per passenger costs with a total bill for airlines and their users of US$14.5 billion,” said Bisignani.

Bisignani noted there are several airports that are on track with cost reduction per passenger, including Manchester (-38%), Rome (-25%) and Birmingham (-13%). “But far too many airports are not delivering the competitiveness that Europe needs. Fifteen of the 25 most expensive airports in the world are in Europe. And the bad are getting worse. Between 2001 and 2004 we have seen increases in cost per passenger at Aeroports de Paris (+44%), Amsterdam (+34%), Stockholm (+35%) and Munich (+26%) to name but a few. These are embarrassing examples of airport monopolies living in the dark ages. It is time for the Commission to drive the Lisbon Agenda with results on airport efficiency,” said Bisignani.

”We want profitable airports providing safe infrastructure with investment to meet growth. Airports must achieve all of this with greater cost efficiency in the same way as airlines have delivered on efficiency. We are not asking anything that we have not done ourselves,” said Bisignani.

Bisignani noted that the Commission is already working on a Directive for airport charges. “The Directive must require robust independent national regulation of airport monopolies over 5 million passengers—Europe’s top 50. It must fulfill four objectives

  1. Take politics out of airport management
  2. Comply with ICAO principles, including non-discrimination
  3. Ensure stakeholder engagement with real and transparent consultation
  4. And above all, act as a substitute for competition ensuring continuous improvement on cost efficiency—not only preventing increases above inflation, but challenging airports to do better by reducing charges”

“Europe must become more competitive. Airlines are on board with the Lisbon Agenda and delivering impressive results. Competition is producing airline efficiency that directly contributes to Europe’s competitiveness. Too many of Europe’s airport monopolies lack commercial discipline and are not contributing to the success of the Lisbon Agenda. Airports are a drag on European competitiveness. Efficiency is our common agenda. A European Directive on Airport Charges is the tool. And effective, independent national regulation with teeth is the answer,” said Bisignani.

Notes for Editors:

  • IATA represents 265 airlines comprising 94% of scheduled international air traffic
  • Airlines directly contribute US$45 billion to Europe’s GDP. This supports over US$270 billion in economic activity. That is 2% of total European GDP.
  • View full text of Giovanni Bisignani’s text remarks.