(Bloomberg) -- Amsterdam Schiphol defended a recent landing-fee increase after Willie Walsh, the longtime airline boss who is now the industry’s chief lobbyist, called it the “worst airport in the world.”
“The disruption is terrible, performance is dreadful and at the same time they want to increase charges,” Walsh said this week at the International Air Transport Association’s annual meeting in Istanbul. “It’s absolutely pathetic, completely unacceptable.”
Airlines have been at odds with the Netherlands’ biggest hub over increased charges and they have filed complaints to the Dutch authorities after Schiphol raised fees by 12% from April 1.
“We understand that this is unfortunate for airlines,” Willemeike Koster, a Schiphol spokesperson, said in an email. “However, after years of insufficient investment and too much emphasis on cost control, we need to make a necessary catch-up.”
While airlines have enjoyed a surge of revenue driven by skyrocketing fares, airports have struggled to do the same, lacking the same flexibility to raise prices on fees and tariffs that are fixed, regulated or commercially negotiated. At the IATA AGM in Istanbul this week, Walsh announced a doubling of the group’s global profit forecast for 2023.
Koster said the Dutch hub missed out on €1.6 billion ($1.7 billion) in revenue due to the Covid-19 pandemic and claimed Schiphol has the lowest rates among the major hub airports in Europe, even after this year’s increase.
“I used to hold Heathrow as the worst airport in the world. Schiphol now holds that prize,” said Walsh, the former chief executive of British Airways parent IAG SA. “Schiphol was a fantastic airport, loved by airlines and passengers, but its star has disappeared. It’s sad to see.”
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