IATA has overreached its authority – CJIA

…says body has no legitimacy to request info on fee increase

The Cheddi Jagan International Airport Corporation (CJIAC) has lashed out at the International Air Transport Association (IATA), saying that it has overreached its authority by wanting the airport to justify the need for the increases.
The Cheddi Jagan International Airport announced that effective from April 1, 2019, there will be an increase in its Government-mandated airport security fees and the introduction of an airport passenger’s service charge. According to Caribbean Airlines, one of the international companies operating out of CJIA, this new development would see the fees/charges for a round trip raised to US$35, an equivalent of $7315. Departing passengers will be required to pay US$17 while arriving passengers will pay US$15, payable in Guyana Dollars at the prevailing foreign exchange rate.
The CJIA had explained that these increases are to support improvements at the airport. With $2 billion budgeted in capital works for 2019/2020 to improve the services offered to passengers and airport stakeholders, a larger terminal and passenger boarding bridges created a significant increase in operational cost inclusive of power consumption.

IATA criticisms
However, days later, IATA criticised the management of CJIA for refusing to hold talks about the adverse impact of the increases on both the passengers and the airline, while asking for an explanation as to how the fees and charges have been calculated.
But according to the CJIAC in a lengthy statement on Saturday, “IATA in seeking to have CJIAC justify the increases to them have sought to exercise a regulatory function it does not have. In so doing, IATA has overreached its authority”.
Insisting that the increases were in accordance with the Public Corporations Act, the CJIAC Order, relevant International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) recommendations, and the Air Carrier Agreements between the airport and the airlines, the CJIAC posited that IATA is unaware of laws and agreements by which the airport is bound.

No legal obligation
According to the airport corporation, despite not having any legal obligation to engage IATA, it has responded to many queries raised by IATA and even met with its representatives in Canada back in February. Further, the CJIAC posited that the global air transport body has no legitimacy in asking the airport for the presentation it made to its Board or line Ministry for the increase of fees so that they could better understand the reason for the fee increase.
“IATA, without any cloak or shroud of legitimacy, is demanding that CJIAC make what can only be characterised as an airport fee application filing to them, providing full justification and explanation of the basis on which the fees have been determined,” the Timehri-based airport asserted.
The CJIAC went on to point out that as a public corporation, it is prohibited at the penalty of law from, among other things, providing information to entities for the purpose of certifying the basis on which the corporation determined the fees it would charge. Much less, it added, in this case where there is no legal relationship between IATA and CJIAC.
“CJIAC would like to assure the travelling public that there is no legal requirement for it to make an application to IATA for the introduction or increase in airport fees. Further, there is no legal requirement that CJIAC provide the information requested by IATA. This notwithstanding, CJIAC has engaged with IATA as a matter of courtesy on numerous occasions,” the airport corporation stated.
According to CJIAC, it has met and discussed with the airlines operating out of the Timehri Airport, the proposed fee increases since October 2018, where most airlines indicated they preferred having the fees included in the ticket price.
However, the airport explained that not all airlines plying the Guyana route are IATA members and those non-IATA airlines make their own arrangements that have airport fees collected and paid over to the CJIAC.
“As far as CJIAC is aware, Caribbean Airlines is the only IATA member that is presently collecting the new fees from the travelling public. The other airlines seem to have taken a different approach,” it stated.
The airport corporation went on to outline that in keeping with the provisions of the terms and conditions of the Air Carrier Agreements between the airport and the airlines, it gave the airlines two months’ notice of the fee increases and more than a month later, Caribbean Airlines responded to its letter making a series of demands of the airport including a demand for A Caribbean Duty Free Lounge, a Club Caribbean Lounge and designated customer service centres, where refreshments can be offered during delayed flights, or early morning or late night services. CAL also requested that the fee implementation be delayed to July 1, 2019, a date more than five months after the notification of increases in January 2019.
According to the CJIAC, this is not the first time there are airport fees and charges increases and there was never any objection or interference by IATA during previous instances. “The Airport does not know what agenda IATA is adopting, but it is inconsistent with the laws of Guyana, the Air Carrier Agreements and ICAO recommendations in cases where there are valid Air Carrier Agreements.