NEW FEES TO BE IMPOSED ON AIR CARRIERS
The Association of Bulgarian Air Companies disagrees with the plans for a 40% raise of the land service fees at the airports in Bourgas and Varna, Svetoslav Stanoulov, Chairman of the association and Manager of the Air Transport Institute, told the BANKER weekly. According to the Civil Air Navigation Act, fees required for the landing, the parking and the passengers are paid to the airport administration, while those for onboard services and flights above the country - to the state-owned Air Traffic Control. Last season, the service of one airplane at the two above-mentioned airports cost some USD260-270. Two months ago, Bulgarian air companies were informed that this cost would be hiked to USD375. The Association of Bulgarian Air Companies claims this is absurd, because air carriers have negotiated their charter flights, including the tour operator packages, in September 2002 when prices were lower. The association proposes that land service fees be frozen. The proposal has nothing to do with the Transport Ministry, Milcho Milanov, Deputy Minister of Transport, said. These fees are determined on the basis of agreements between the airport and each air company. Some of the carriers already reached such agreements with the airport managers and have no problems in this aspect.Losses of the air industry worldwide due to the war in Iraq are expected to reach USD18BN. In the first week of the military actions alone, international flights carried out by European air companies decreased by 12.3 per cent. Traffic is down by 42.2% for flights to the Middle East, 14.6% for flights within Europe, 10.2% for flights across the Atlantic Ocean, and 12.4% for flights to the Far East. The sector faces the biggest crisis in its history, Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus, Secretary General of the Association of European Air Companies, said. During the Desert Storm operation in 1991, the air companies suffered losses totaling USD12BN.