The airport tax regulator at Schiphol Amsterdam unexpectedly agreed with the airport's position that due to losses incurred during the COVID-19 shutdown, airport taxes should be increased by a total of 37 percent over the next three years.
Air carriers are still reeling from COVID-19, with passenger numbers dropping by more than 70 percent at the height of the epidemic, resulting in the loss of about 200,000 aviation-supported jobs. Recovery is very slow.
The IATA index shows that passenger traffic at airports in the Netherlands is still 35 percent lower than in 2019. “At this critical time, it is in the interest of the country as a whole to maintain air traffic. Unfortunately, the regulator's decision jeopardizes the position of the Netherlands as one of Europe's most competitive air transport hubs.
The position of the supporters of the increase in fees contrasts sharply with the position taken by independent regulators elsewhere.
For example, in Spain, the regulator dismissed the claims of an airport operator that it needed to recoup its losses from the pandemic: “The airport operator has enough cash reserves to cover the deficit, especially since traffic is expected to increase in the coming years. Any changes in tariffs for the next three years will be frozen.
Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is in a similar situation. The amount of dividends paid before the pandemic amounted to 742 million euros for the period 2015-2019, that is, there are quite enough options to cover the consequences of the pandemic. Schiphol can easily finance short-term losses without increasing costs for its customers.
"Schiphol Airport and its regulator did not take into account the exceptional circumstances that were created by COVID-19. The cost recovery system cannot work when there is no demand for an extended period of time due to government-imposed travel restrictions. It is unreasonable to put a 37 percent increase in costs on airlines and their passengers. But there are other costs, including rising environmental taxes, which are already hurting the position of Dutch aviation, & raquo;, — said Rafael Schwartzman, IATA Regional Vice President for Europe.
IATA is preparing an appeal against this decision.