Regional airport owners owed $10m by airlines, says AAA

An Australian Airports Association survey has revealed that 24 regional airports, most owned by councils, are owed $10 million in unpaid fees.

The survey of 34 members of AAA also showed that 10 large and capital city airports were owed $7 million.

AAA chief executive James Goodwin said that while airlines had received significant financial help from the government through support packages worth around $1.3 billion, they were not paying the airports their per-passenger landing fees and security fees.

Qantas unilaterally stopped paying aeronautical fees and rent for terminal space in April to preserve cash as the Covid-19 crisis took hold, forcing the airline to ground most of its fleet.

However, a Qantas spokesman has said it was now up to date with payments to airports “in all material respects”— and fully up to date with all regional airports – thought it continues to negotiate with some of the major airports about the payment of aeronautical fees.

A Regional Express (Rex) spokeswoman said that the airline had paid “every single airport every amount owing to them”. However, security charges may not be paid if the airport has been “delinquent in furnishing the required data for audit” as required by the government.

Mr Goodwin has joined calls by unions and aviation operators for government to provide a scheme specifically for the aviation industry when JobKeeper ends in September.