Volume 34 (2009) / Issue 3
The vexed issue of the need to reach consensus on a just and equitable basis for the imposition of charges levied on airlines by airports for services rendered has been the subject of discussion at many International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) conferences. Part of the problem has been that airports have, over the years, been privatized and commercialized, necessitating them to be operated in a businesslike manner. However, some core issues have remained unchanged, the first being that after everything is said and done, there is only one product in the air transport business and that is air transport, which is provided by the airlines. The second is that it is an immutable principle that the State is ultimately responsible for meeting the needs of the people of the world for safe, regular, economic, and efficient air transport services, working through ICAO, as per the Convention on International Civil Aviation. The blurring of concepts that has arisen in meshing these fundamental principles brings to bear a need to critically appraise one area that exemplifies the confusion – airport charges for services provided to airlines. This article critically appraises the issue and identifies certain anomalies that exist.
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