Praise and damnation for air traffic control providers

June 19, 2019
control and praise
Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

There are brickbats and bouquets for Australasian air traffic control providers after they chose opposite courses of action for the fees they charge airlines.

The International Air Transport Association applauded a move by Airservices to reduce air navigation services (ANS) charges from July 1 by 2 percent, a move it said would provide a $US20 million saving for airlines.

But it was not happy with a move by Airways New Zealand to increase its ANS charges by 12.7 percent from July 1.

“Not only has Airservices Australia frozen the cost of air traffic control services since 2015, they have also been able to identify productivity improvements resulting in cost savings that will now be passed on to their airline customers,’’ IATA regional vice president Asia-Pacific Conrad Clifford said in a statement.

“At a time when airlines are facing a deteriorating business environment with rising fuel prices and a substantial weakening of world trade, every cost-saving opportunity matters.

Airservices was able to reduce charges after a major and sometimes controversial cost-cutting campaign shaved $A170m off its bottom line.

READ: Qantas order for 36 super efficient A321XLRs will open up new routes.

Airservices Australia froze aviation charges in 2015 ahead of a major restructuring the following year that saw widespread redundancies among non-operational staff.

It said last week aviation charges would be cut by two percent from July 1  as a result of the “headroom” created by the restructuring.

While Clifford described Airservices as a positive example the partnership between airlines and air navigation service providers, he was disappointed Airways New Zealand had ignored “the considerable airline feedback provided during this pricing consultation process has been ignored”.

He said further increases planned by the Kiwi air traffic controller for 2020 and 2021 meant airlines would face a cumulative 21.4 percent increase in New Zealand’s ANS charges over the next three years.

“Airways New Zealand needs to exercise cost management discipline and conduct a forensic analysis of their cost building blocks,” he said.

“And then with input from stakeholders, including airlines, identify what is critically required, and what can be removed or deferred into future periods.”