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ELFAA slams Polish navigation charges

16th December 2008 - 08:27 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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The European Low Fares Airline Association (ELFAA) has strongly criticised the decision of the Polish Civil Aviation Office (CAO) to allow high costs at the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency (PANSA) to continue, and to maintain an artificial division of the Polish territory into two charging zones for terminal navigation services: Warsaw and all other airports. The policy, says ELFAA, results in “an exorbitant level of charges at the regional airports, 888 PLN, while continuing to provide a competitive advantage to Warsaw with a lower charge of 610 PLN”.

“Today’s decision fails to address the fundamental problem of air navigation services in Poland – high costs and inefficiency in the operation of PANSA,” declared John Hanlon, secretary general of ELFAA. “In January 2008 terminal navigation charges in Szczecin, Bydgoszcz, Poznań, Wrocław, Łódź and Rzeszów increased by 960%, and in Gdańsk, Kraków and Katowice by 388%. This led to an overall increase in the cost of air navigation services to ELFAA members in the region of €8 million per annum. Despite repeated calls from ELFAA, the regional airports and the Polish Parliament, PANSA and CAO failed to introduce any cost savings and efficiencies that would guarantee a meaningful reduction in charges for 2009.

“Today is also a sad moment for air passengers in Poland,” Hanlon added. “The Polish air transport market is already suffering from the global economic recession and an unprecedented industry crisis, leading to less choice for passengers. Traffic growth has significantly slowed down this year and, with PANSA’s and CAO’s decision to further disadvantage Polish regional airports, the outlook for 2009 is very uncertain. ELFAA has consistently called for a single charging zone, encompassing all airports in Poland, in line with the examples of Germany, The Netherlands, Portugal and Austria, and also in accordance with relevant provisions of EU law. This would guarantee a better future for air transport in Poland and lower prices for consumers. We fail to understand the reasons behind PANSA’s and CAO’s decision to follow an alternative route.

“ELFAA will continue highlighting inefficiency and abusive pricing policies by air navigation service providers. We are calling on the Minister for Infrastructure to undertake a full and proper investigation of the operation of PANSA and CAO, and the impact of their decisions on the competitiveness of the Polish air transport market.”

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