Call to avoid airport hikes

2011-10-14 11:13

South Africa must act to prevent airport tariffs rising by 161% in the next five years, the International Air Transport Association (Iata) said today.

“If Acsa increases charges as allowed over the next five years, it could have the world’s highest charges,” Iata chief executive Tony Tyler told the Conference of the Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA) in Durban.

“This unenviable title will be a drag to the South African economy – deterring both business and leisure travellers and making high-value South African goods exported by air less competitive,” he said in a speech prepared for delivery at AASA’s AGM.

Acsa’s latest tariff hike – which increased passenger service, landing and aircraft parking charges by almost 70% – came into effect on October 1.

Further increases of 5% in 2012, 5.6% in 2013 and 5.5% in 2014, were planned. This would result in a cumulative 161% increase over a five-year period, AASA said last month.

Tyler said the situation was not irreversible. He called for a review of Airports Company SA’s (Acsa) capital expenditure.

“We don’t believe that the new mid-field terminal at Johannesburg or the Cape Town runway re-alignments need to be included in the next price permission from 2013,” Tyler said.

“And proceeds from the sale of the old Durban airport should be allocated to pay down Acsa’s debt. After all, airlines paid for the asset through charges.”

Acsa’s pricing should reflect costs incurred, he said. This meant stopping differential pricing between international and domestic services at its airports, and moving to a transparent system with no cross-subsidisation and much more consultation with airlines, he said.

“And third, we need a strong independent regulatory framework for both Acsa and Air Traffic and Navigation Services.

“Included in this should be improved consultations with industry on capital expenditure planning and a process that is free from political influence,” Tyler said.

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