The National Markets and Competition Commission (CNMC) believes that Aena cannot hide behind the coronavirus pandemic to shoot up airport charges and offset its balance with the losses caused by the stoppage due to covid-19. For this reason, Competition not only reaffirms its proposal to lower airport charges by 0.44% per year between 2022 and 2026, but also estimates that this reduction may reach 0.5% per year, according to the latest recovery forecasts. of air traffic, informed sources of the regulator
The CNMC issued two weeks ago the mandatory report on the Airport Regulation document (DORA) for the next five years in which it rejected the increase in airport charges of more than 5% that Aena proposes for the next five years, and considers that they should be reduced by “0.44% per year” during the period.
And it is that the airport manager has notified an official increase of 3.29% for the five-year period but adds other “costs of unpredictable evolution out of the operator’s control” in terms of baggage security and entry control. Due to this, according to Aena, the regulator should recognize these costs incurred and allow an increase of 0.52% per year until 2025, and 3.29% in 2026, which raises the increase that they will have to over 5%. assume the airlines throughout the period.
The CNMC defends its proposal because it completely differs in the forecast of the recovery of air traffic, which it foresees in 2023 or 2024, compared to those made by Aena, which does not foresee reaching the passenger levels of 2019 (275 million) until 2026. But is that even admitting Aena’s figures, the regulator estimates that with the proposed rates of 0.44% annual reduction, the financial solvency of the company, 51% owned by the State, would not be in jeopardy because the debt over ebitda It would stand at 2.2 in 2026, improving on that of 2019 which was 2.3, the same sources reported.
Competition also disagrees with the estimate of operating costs made by the airport manager to justify its increase in rates and advises efficiency adjustments based on the expected traffic. Regarding the cost of capital, the Commission proposes an alternative more in line with that used in other countries of the European Union and other regulated sectors, according to which an average cost of capital before tax of 6.02% is determined instead of 7 , 68% of Aena.
Rates are not the only problem Aena faces. The manager maintains a battle with the tenants of his commercial premises that is beginning to lose in the courts. First, several courts imposed precautionary measures to prevent him from collecting the 2020 rent that the large commercial chains have not wanted to pay, understanding that they did not take into account the drastic reduction in income due to the fall in air traffic due to the pandemic. Now, they already get to the bottom of the matter, and force rents to adapt to real passenger traffic, which fell 75% in 2020.
In this sense, the Court of First Instance number 62 of Madrid has admitted the demand of the Zea Retail family group to link the payment of the rent of its stores at the Aena airports to real traffic, joining a previous sentence of a First Court Instance of Palma de Mallorca.
El Prat Airport
In addition, Aena must agree with the new Minister of Transport, Raquel López, on the expansion of the Barcelona-El Prat airport. The new member of the Government and of the Executive of the PSC, has been very reticent with this project due to its environmental consequences as mayor of the Barcelona municipality of Gavà, affected by the works.
The president of Aena, Maurici Lucena, also a member of the PSC, will have to balance the discipline of the party (he was announced as Minister of Economy in the event that Salvador Illa had reached the presidency of the Generalitat) and the interests of the private shareholders of Aena.