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The International Air Transport Association (IATA)has called for reduction in airport charges and taxes, adding that the case for higher charges have denied passengers the full benefits of cheaper air travel, as illustrated over the period 2006 to 2016 in a just released IATA study.
Airports in major parts of the world have increased their airport charges and taxes astronomically in the last few years.
Nigeria imposes a levy of $20 on both short and long haul flights and long haul flights leaving the country through airport tax, though below the global average of $23 on a short haul flight and $53 on a long haul flight, which excludes many countries that do not tax flying at all.
Statistics made available to Woleshadare.net shows that International passengers departing from 13 African Airports are charged between $40 to $85.
Included in this group are major destinations such as Accra, Abidjan, Ouagadougou, Nairobi and Entebbe. Djibouti has the highest charges at $89 per passenger (departing and arriving). At another 9 airports passengers are charged $30 to $40.
Within the European Union, it observed that the United Kingdom still has the highest flight taxes with an adult holder of economy short haul ticket flying from a UK airport paying $20 in tax. For a first or business class ticket, the tax paid goes for as high as $41.
Despite the critical role that air transport plays and its significant contribution to the economies of African countries, governments’ policy makers continue to view air transport as a luxury service for the elite.
Directly and indirectly, air transport supports 6.7 million jobs in Africa and contributes $67.8 billion in GDP according to ATAG.
Despite this, many African governments and airport service providers have tended to burden airlines and airline users with high taxes, fees and charges.
This is in complete disregard to the fact that airlines across the continent are going through period of critical financial crisis and struggling for survival.
Calling on the EU to significantly strengthen economic regulation of major European airport monopolies by focusing on interests of passengers, the clearing house for global airlines stated that had airport charges remained constant over the 2006-2016 period consumers could have benefitted, on average, 17 Euros per one-way trip.
It reiterated that price stimulus of nearly ten per cent of average tickets costs would have improved Europe’s competitiveness, and potentially generated an additional 50 million passengers, stressing that in turn, that would have unlocked 50 billion Euros in European GDP and created 238,000 jobs.
IATA’s Director General and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac said, “Airlines, like all competitive businesses, are in a constant struggle to improve efficiency. Europe’s airports however are largely insulated from competitive forces. Europe’s light-handed Airport Charges Directive has failed Europe’s travellers and its own competitiveness by letting airport charges rise”.
He noted that tighter EU regulation is needed to stop airport monopolies from taking money from the pockets of travellers to reward investors. The goal should be economic regulation of airport monopolies that is an effective proxy for competition—promoting efficiency while protecting consumers.
“In that regard the voice and interests of airlines – airports’ main customers – should be carefully listened to. This will ensure effective regulation that will broadly balance the interests of travellers, investors, citizens and economies”.
The trend of increasing private ownership of European airports, he stated adds urgency to the situation, hinting that since 2010 the number of European airports in private hands has almost doubled.
“In many cases privatization has failed to deliver promised benefits to passengers and the local economy often suffers the results of higher costs. The balancing role of effective and strong economic regulation is essential,” said de Juniac.