(Geneva) The International Air Transport Association (IATA) greeted today’s European Commission proposal for a directive on airport charges as a first step in the process of making the relationship between airlines and airports better contribute to Europe’s competitiveness.

“The proposal moves Europe towards bringing balance back to the relationship between airport monopolies and their customers. Complete transparency for airports and consultation with airlines is a good start. The requirement for independent national regulatory authorities, following International Civil Aviation Organization principles, is a positive follow-up. But it falls far short of expectations in the critical area of setting cost-efficiency targets,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

“The Commission has set the stage and is putting the actors in place. That’s important. But let’s not forget the plot—cost efficiency. In the coming months we will be working with the Commission, the Parliament and national governments to define cost efficiency parameters. Only then can we call this a success story and a landmark package,” said Bisignani.

Bisignani re-iterated the problem. “Commercial discipline has made the European airline sector among the world’s most competitive and profitable—contributing significantly to Europe’s Lisbon Agenda goals. Consumers are benefiting from airline fares at least a third lower than a decade ago even as airlines invest billions in new and more environmentally friendly fleets. Now airports need to catch up and keep pace with airline efficiency gains. But instead of cost reductions, too often we see double-digit increases. Look at London Heathrow where we could face a 50% increase between 2008 and 2013 or France, where the government approved a 27% increase in charges at Charles de Gaulle for 2006-2010. It’s a real problem. Cost-efficiency targets must be at the core of the solution,” said Bisignani.

Notes for Editors:

  1. IATA presented its views on Airport Regulation in a presentation in Brussels on 7 April 2006. Full text of the presentation.
  2. Vice President Barrot previewed today’s proposal at the 2006 IATA AGM in Paris.
  3. In Europe, Air transport supports over 4 million jobs and US$274 billion in economic activity.