Taxes on passengers across multiple countries in Europe have been condemned as “short sighted, self-defeating and almost suicidal initiatives”.
The attack came from the chief executive of Spanish budget carrier Vueling in an address to the Aviation Club in London.
Alex Cruz said the idea of hiking airport fees from anywhere between 5% and 100% was a perfect example.
“This hits our customers with an increase of as much as €10 per segment per passenger. So a typical British family of four holidaying in Spain could see their travel costs increased by up to €40, with further increases expected in 2013 and 2014.”
Cruz acknowledged that Vueling’s domestic market has suffered some “major political mismanagement”.
But he said the fundamentals of Spain remain solid and he remained convinced the current business generation will get Spain back on its feet, given the chance.
Vueling, which operates in the UK from Heathrow, Southampton, Cardiff and Edinburgh, unashamedly follows the passenger, wherever he or she may be,” said Cruz.
“There’s one overriding mantra that has enabled us to do this and thrive – that is a relentless control of costs,” he added.
“We’ve managed to transform cost-control from a management function to a cultural trait. At every level in the company, Vueling staff know that keeping an eye on each and every cost item enables us to manage our price and revenue equation.”
Cruz highlighted the importance of being as clever as possible regarding fuel.
“We don’t like the cost of fuel, of course, but we have to be smart about hedging and involve aircrew intensively in fuel management,” he said. “Crew become very committed to fuel economy once they realise the tonnes per year that can be saved by being ultra-efficient.
“We have also achieved a sustained load factor in the mid-70 percentile, which is fine as more than 40% of our overall passengers are business travellers and we aspire to increase this number to nearly 50% by the end of this year. We will do this by continuing to add frequencies on key routes, plus add new services like access to business lounges.”
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