I’m writing from the train between Edinburgh and Manchester. We just pulled into the Lockerbie stop. It is impossible to be here without remembering Pan Am 103, and without understanding the need for smart, effective security.
The train we are on is ridiculously inadequate. It is a 3 1/2 hour trip and has the feel of the Washington Metro at rush hour. Hey, British transport planners! Get a clue!
Speaking of getting a clue, I just read a story in a British newspaper (The Independent) about Giovanni Bisignani, Director General of the International Air Transport Association, which represents most of the world’s airlines. Part of his job is to make people believe airlines have nothing to do with their own financial problems, which is fair enough. But he just can’t seem to resist the temptation to blame others, with airports being his favorite targets.
Bisignani is upset that airport charges are up in some places. He uses a figure of $1.5 billion, don’t know if that is net but it is a worldwide figure. Hmmm. When airlines in the US alone have increased fees (I suppose we can call them airline taxes, just as airlines like to call airport fees), have increased airline taxes on things like bags, phone reservations, etc by enough to raise nearly $4 billion this year, MORE than the U.S. government spends on its airport grant program, it is amusing to hear an airline official complain about such things. Even more amusing when you consider airlines don’t even come close to paying for the infrastructure they use. In Europe, I learned that airline charges are 21 percent of airport revenues. U.S. figures are in a similar range. It is also amusing when you consider that airport costs are only 4 percent of total airline costs.
Airlines like to point to the layoffs and furloughs they have endured, and that also is fair enough. But airports have been laying people off, furloughing them and /or cutting pay around the country, by as much as 30 percent in some places. Many projects are being deferred or cancelled. There is a similar story here in Europe.
Perhaps Mr Bisignani’s statements are popular with his members. But they don’t help move the industry forward, and they certainly fail to shine any real light on a difficult challenge.