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Jo'burg – On Monday, 31 August 2009 - kulula.com and its parent company, Comair Limited, raised serious concerns about the financial crisis at the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), the state-owned operator of South Africa's major airports.
This follows the release of ACSA's financial results last week in which the airport operator revealed a massive shortfall in funding to cover its
R17-billion capital-expenditure commitments.
"We fully support the investment in necessary airport infrastructure, however, for the past few years the aviation industry has vehemently opposed ACSA's excessive spend, to no avail. Now passengers are going to be called on to pay for it," said Comair joint CEO Erik Venter.
The new R7,5-billion airport currently being built at La Mercy, near Durban, has been highlighted as a project undertaken without the support of the airlines and without a proven business case.
A study by the International Air Transport Association showed that the existing airport in Durban could handle demand for the next 10 to 15 years.
"Currently around 14% of the average domestic airfare goes to ACSA, comprising a charge for passengers of R49 as well as landing fees and rentals charged to the airlines. ACSA is proposing a doubling of these charges, even though, relative to the ticket price, they are already among the highest in the world. The proposal also comes at a time when travel volumes have already declined by 10% year-on-year and travellers are more price sensitive than ever before.
"Following the massive capital expenditure, ACSA is in desperate need of a capital injection from its shareholders. During these tough economic times, travellers do not deserve to be hit by yet another massive increase in airport charges," concluded Venter.
kulula.com also said that passengers had been hit by higher-than-average charges by ACSA.
It noted that currently ACSA was paid approximately R100 per single flight for each domestic passenger that travels through one of its airports.