Air passengers will be the losers if Wellington International Airport is allowed to over charge airlines $117 million in landing fees over the next five years, airlines say.
The airlines are accusing the airport of ignoring pricing guidelines set by the Commerce Commission by trying to push through a 71 per cent increase in landing charges to $95m by 2017.
Board of Airline Representatives executive director John Beckett said under the consumer watchdog’s guidelines, landing charges should actually reduce by 11 per cent next year and then hold steady.
Instead, landing charges on domestic routes would increase on average by between $3.55 per passenger for jet services and up $11 on smaller planes after five years, Barnz says in its submission on the proposal.
“These increased charges ultimately end up in airfares,” Beckett said.
Changes to the international departure fee, however, meant a saving of between $4.47 and $5.54 on trans-Tasman services.
The airport said domestic fees would rise by no more than $8.95 on average and the international fee by at least $6.65.
Beckett said Wellington Airport had blatantly ignored the Commerce Commission’s principles for airport pricing established last year.
Wellington Airport was using too greater land valuation and return on capital to setting its prices, he said.
“Barnz strongly opposes the airport exercising its monopoly power in such a brazen manner to rort the travelling public.” He called on the Government to impose stronger regulation on Wellington Airport.
“Otherwise the airport will just continue ratchetting up its asset values and the return on them in order to keep earning higher and higher monopoly profits at the cost to travellers,” Beckett said.
The airport says the new fees placed it in the mid-range of Australasian airport in terms of cost per passengers.
The airport was not bound by the commission’s guidelines for setting its price setting, but the commission would review the effectiveness of the regime next year.
Wellington Airport is appealing against the guidelines.