Airline chiefs to press for cuts in air traffic control and airport charges

By Barry O’Halloran

Airline chiefs such as Michael O’Leary and Willie Walsh are putting aside their rivalries to campaign for cuts in airport and air traffic control charges.

A new organisation, Airlines for Europe (A4E), made up of Ryanair, Aer Lingus parent IAG, Air France-KLM, Easyjet and Lufthansa, launched in Amsterdam yesterday with a call for lower costs and more efficiency in aviation.

It wants Europe’s biggest airports to cut their charges and says a new study shows that the 21 biggest have increased their fees by 80 per cent since 2005.

Decrease in air fares

“Airport charges have risen by more than three quarters over the last 10 years,” A4E’s first statement said. “This is in direct contrast to the lower air fares being delivered by European airlines, which have decreased by 20 per cent over the same period.”

Five chief executives – Michael O’Leary of Ryanair, Willie Walsh of IAG, Alexandre de Juniac of Air France-KLM, Carolyn McCall of Easyjet and Carsten Spohr of Lufthansa – jointly launched the new group.

It plans to represent the big players with European Union institutions, international organisations and governments, and intends to grow its membership in coming months.

The body wants the EU to cut air traffic control costs by fully implementing its Single European Sky initiative, under which Brussels will co-ordinate the regulation of airspace.

A4E is demanding that air traffic control strikes should no longer be allowed to disrupt passengers across Europe and it says that technology should be used to save money.

The group singled out the Republic’s decision to abolish travel tax in 2014 as an example of how removing “unreasonable” state charges can boost activity and create jobs in the industry.

Extensive traffic growth “The Irish Government’s removal of traffic tax in April 2014 led to extensive traffic growth at Irish airports and an 8 per cent increase in tourism last year,” it said.

A4E is seeking the removal of all “unreasonable taxes” such as the extra €2.50 applied to passengers at all Italian airports from this year, which it warns will damage the country’s economy.

“Economic analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers shows removing UK air passenger duty would boost British gross domestic product by 1.7 per cent and create 60,000 new jobs by 2020,” the organisation said.

Meanwhile, Ryanair has agreed a five-year deal with pilots and crew at its 76 bases. The Irish carrier will increase pay and allowances over the next five years, improve rosters, with five days on and three days off, improve sickness benefits and offer more promotions.



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