The Airlines Vs. The Airports

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They've cancelled the meals and the movies and dollar-crunching airlines are now targeting airport costs in the struggle to stay in business. Trouble is, the same things that have hurt the carriers are also putting the bite on airports, who pass along their increased costs to the airlines. "The trends are horrible," Laura Einspanier, who's in charge of airport facilities for American Airlines, told The Dallas Morning News. She said American has been hit with rent increases of 10 percent and landing-fee hikes of 18 percent as it teeters on the brink financially. US Airways recently threatened to pull its hub out of Pittsburgh over airport costs and United went toe-to-toe with Denver Airport officials. The airports say they're doing their best to cuts costs but they don't have as much flexibility as airlines in that regard. Kevin Cox, COO of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), noted that when flights dropped and fewer revenue-producing passengers went through the gates over the past couple of years, the airport couldn't simply close facilities the way airlines mothballed planes and cut schedules. "The demands of operating 18,000 acres of land, seven runways and four terminals haven't gone away," he said. "We're about at the point where we've cut what we can cut." Cox said staff has been cut by almost 17 percent and the airport has cut its budget by $66 million. New charges, including a fee for vehicles dropping off passengers, have also been introduced. Airline consultant Michael Boyd said the issues won't go away anytime soon. "Every airport is being told by airlines that they've got to get their costs down."