Landing fee cuts should stay: Iata

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 August, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 August, 2003, 12:00am

The International Air Transport Association (Iata) yesterday urged Asia's airports to make permanent the temporary reduction in landing fees they gave airlines during the Sars outbreak.

Iata also kept up the pressure on governments to liberalise the industry's regulatory environment to give airlines more flexibility to ride out future economic challenges.

Director-general Giovanni Bisignani said airports should slash landing fees and traffic control charges permanently.

'Our industry partners must join our cost-control effort,' said Mr Bisignani yesterday. 'I am not saying that airports should make less profit. We need healthy and profitable partners. And airports need healthy airlines.'

He said carriers spent up to US$40 billion a year on international and domestic airport fees and traffic control levies.

He said airlines were struggling to turn a profit and aviation industry regulations - such as bilateral systems, national ownership rules and the attitude of competition authorities - were not helping and should be changed to provide the impetus for recovery.

Aside from more open skies, Mr Bisignani said airlines should be allowed to operate like normal businesses, so that carriers could have the freedom to merge, acquire and go to international financial markets.

'National ownership limits should be liberalised wherever governments think it is feasible,' he said.

Iata also urged governments to shoulder the more than $5 billion in global security costs last year brought by the terrorist attacks of September 11.

Carriers had also paid $5 billion in extra insurance premiums since the attacks, he said.

Mr Bisignani accused governments of being slow to help out the industry.

'We are doing our part. We ask the governments to do their part,' Mr Bisignani said.

'We are not asking the governments to give us money or subsidies other than the security costs not related to the airline industry.'

Mr Bisignani said airport privatisations should be used to enhance efficiency, not to solve 'budget issues'.

'Privatisation must not give a private monopoly a licence to print money,' he said. 'You cannot move from a public to a private monopoly.'