Airlines kept ‘€4bn in charges from passengers who did not fly’
Airtaxback claims European carriers profit from uncollected airport charges and levies
Passengers who book seats but do not fly are not entitled to have their air fare returned but should get taxes and airport charges refunded
Passengers who book seats but do not fly are not entitled to have their air fare returned but should get taxes and airport charges refunded. Irish company, Airtaxback, which claims repayments of these levies on behalf of clients, said yesterday that Europe’s airlines kept a total of €4.1 billion in uncollected charges in 2013.
The company said that Aer Lingus retained €55 million, while Ryanair held on to £374 million (€454 million). It bases its calculations on the airlines’ passenger figures and an estimated no-show rate of 10 per cent.
While Ryanair’s finance director, Howard Millar, agreed that the airline makes a small gain from uncollected charges, he dismissed Airtaxback’s calculation saying that the real figure was “nowhere near” what it claimed.
Mr Millar pointed out that, in the case of its special offers, which account for 25 per cent to 40 per cent of the fares it collects, the airline absorbs charges such as taxes and airport fees, which are often higher than the actual amount that it charges, and then nets them out from its revenues. “It’s not as simple as dividing one thing from the other,” he said.
Ryanair does refund these charges when customers who are entitled them seek repayment, but charges a €20 administration fee. Aer Lingus did not comment.
Meanwhile, the EU has changed its guidelines on state aid for airports. Brussels said yesterday the move will allow greater flexibility in funding infrastructure development and operations, particularly for small and regional airports, and will support new routes.