IATA slams Spanish airports authority AENA

IATA has accused Spanish airports authority AENA of being “irresponsible” for planning to raise its charges, claiming the proposed price hike will hit Spain’s economic recovery and cost jobs.

AENA, which operates 46 Spanish airports, has proposed to raise its charges by 5.5% over five years in a filing to the Spanish aviation authority, the DGAC.

IATA suggests AENA aims to recover revenues lost due to the Covid-19 crisis for services never operated.

Willie Walsh, IATA director general has previously accused airport owners of seeking to recoup losses from carriers as the travel resumes and the sector recovers.

Walsh said: “The whole aviation industry is in crisis. Everybody needs to reduce costs and improve efficiency to repair the financial damage of Covid-19.

“Having analysed AENA’s situation, airlines believe AENA could reduce its charges by 4%. So proposing to pass the burden of financial recovery on to customers with a 5.5% 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.”

Iata pointed out AENA paid out €2.59 billion in dividends to shareholders during 2017 to 2019.

Walsh argued: “AENA can easily finance short-term losses without increasing costs to its customers. It has an excellent credit rating to access financing.

“Its shareholders have been well-rewarded and must now share some of the pain. And, like the rest of the industry.”

The airline association noted travel and tourism’s contribution to Spain’s economy fell from 12% in 2019 to 4% last year and the number of direct air connections to Spain fell from 1,800 to 234.

Walsh said: “Higher costs will delay a tourism rebound and keep jobs at risk. The Spanish government is looking to open borders and restart air travel. AENA needs to contribute to that effort, not erect a roadblock.”

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