Spain increases airport charges...killing the goose that lays the golden eggs?
It is going to cost a lot more to dock your aircraft here...!
I guess there is no need to highlight once more how distressed is Spain's current economic situation, however, everything can get worse...as the government finds itself in the position where it has to balance the need to obtain more tax revenue with the preservation of one of the few industries that are in good shape and generating employment in Spain.
Spain's airports are government-owned and, after postponing an already planned IPO of airport operator AENA, the govenment is now increasing airport charges...quite dramatically. At Barcelona and Madrid airports are set to increase charges by 50% and top go up by 30% in smaller airports
Ryanair has already announced that its going to pass this cost on to passengers. Easyjet goes a bit further and is closing down its Madrid base. To be fair, cut-throat competition in this market might have had a bigger role in this decision, but sure high charges did not help...
This charges increase is surely going to have an impact on the number of arrivals, at the very least arrivals might be lower than previously expected, although figures might still be strong in absolute terms, as the effect of increased airport taxes must not be taken in isolation, though, since other factors might be at play that might come to the rescue of the Spanish tourism industry, like more Europeans vacationing in the relative proximity of Spain due to the economic crisis.
Some studies estimate that Dutch airports lost nearly 2 million passengers to their rivals across the Netherlands borders (Dusseldorf, Brussels) after an air passenger duty was introduced (and scrapped shortly after) a few years ago. But, of course, users of Spanish airports do not enjoy the same number of choices when it comes to airport gateways than do the inhabitants of the more densely populated Benelux.
In any case, although some airport charges were maybe a bit too low (proof of that might be that Spain is one of the few countries where Ryanair uses main airports) the Spanish authorities need to be careful not to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs, since tourism is one of the few industries still generating so-badly needed jobs.