Airlines protest at Ercan price hikes

Onur Air, Pegasus and Atlasjet have combined in calling on the government to deal with the escalating prices at Ercan.

They have threatened to stop flights unless the government intervenes.

The written protest was sent to the Transportation Minister Ersan Saner. It says that these privately owned airlines have to find an extra TL 5 million to meet the price increases at Ercan.

All three airlines say that their previous protests to the government have not been answered. They are now imposing a deadline and that unless the government responds to their letter, they will meet on April 22nd to decide on suspending flights. These flight suspensions will be announced beforehand and will be for periods of between one day and one week.

Pegasus General Manager Zeki Zia, pointed out that any price increases by Turkey for airport services had not been applied to any planes that were travelling to and from the TRNC. In addition, landing charges had not been applied either.

In the face of these exemptions, he could not understand how the newly privatised Ercan airport had doubled its charges to the airlines. The only response so far from the Minister, was to say that the increases only amounted to TL 5.25 per passenger. However as a million passengers went through Ercan every year, this amounted to more than TL 5 million to the airlines.

The government has claimed that these prices are only to bring them in line with international standards. Mr Zia rebuts this by asking why haven’t the services also been raised to international standards? He said, “Where are the new investments in Ercan? There aren’t any.” Mr Zia points out that passenger queues still stretch outside the building.

Given that revenues for the first four years go direct to the airport operator, Mr Zia says this is illogical. It means that with these price increases, the operator is making money without making any investments. He feels that this should be the other way around. This is another example of the cock-eyed way of doing business in the TRNC.

Turkey has actually reduced airport charges because it understands the importance of airlines bringing in tourists. Mr Zia asks why the TRNC cannot understand this obvious development. He calculates that the government has foregone an annual income of some 40 million euros for the next 25 years by inept negotiation of the terms for privatisation.

Atlasjet General Manager, Murat Ersoy says that his company has already made the decision to stop planned flights from Ercan to Sabiha Gokcen airport in Istanbul.

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