Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Potential Increase of Airport Charges Anticipated to Undermine Spain’s Economic & Employment Recovery

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has warned that proposals by AENA to increase the user charges at 46 airports operating in Spain could damage the economy and employment restoration of the country from the COVID-19 pandemic.

AENA is a state-owned company that manages joint interest of airports and heliports in Spain, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

In a press release issued by IATA, it was pointed out that the presented proposals to the General Director of Civil Aviation (DGAC) include an increase of customer charges by 5.5 per cent over the course of five upcoming years.

In addition, the proposals would pave the way for AENA to retrieve the lost revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic for services that never got to operate or which the airlines that could not access.

“Having analyzed AENA’s situation, airlines believe that AENA could reduce its charges by four per cent. So proposing to pass the burden of financial recovery on to customers with a 5.5 per cent increase is nothing short of irresponsible. The DGAC should immediately reject the request and instruct AENA to work with the airlines on a mutually agreed recovery plan,” the Director-General of IATA Willie Walsh said.

According to IATA, during the pre-pandemic period, AENA communicated €2.59 billion of earnings over the 2017 – 2019 period, which shows that the company can cover its losses.

In regards to this, Walsh said that AENA could finance its losses without increasing the costs to the customers as it has a great credit rating that allows accessing its finances.

A well-functioning air transport sector where all parties aim to reduce the costs will be crucial in recovering from the damaging impact that COVID-19 had on the travel, tourism, and transport sector, IATA revealed.

Concerning the overall tourism and transport sector’s conditions, IATA disclosed the following information:

  • Passenger demand in 2020 decreased by 76 per cent and is not expected to recover fully until 2024.
  • The number of places with direct flight link to Spain fell from 1,800 registered in 2019 to 234 in 2020
  • Over €1.1 million jobs have been lost or put at risk in Spain, and over €60 billion of the country’s overall GDP has been lost
  • The travel and tourism sector’s contribution to the economy of Spain fell from 12 per cent to four per cent.

“The Spanish government is actively looking to open borders and restart air travel. AENA needs to contribute to that effort, not erect a short-sighted and self-interested roadblock,” Walsh added.

Previously, IATA revealed that during February 2021, passenger demand fell 74.7 per cent compared to February 2019. At the same time, the March 2021 figures showed that passenger demand decreased by 67.2 per cent compared to the pre-pandemic period (2019).

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