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Schiphol Group urges Dutch government to contribute to security cost and scrap passenger departure tax as soon as possible

Reuters 21 Aug.08

Amsterdam airport operator Schiphol Group has urged the government to foot some of its security costs and repeal a passenger tax after posting an 8 percent fall in first-half net profit.

Chief Executive Gerlach Cerfontaine said he sent a letter to Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende last week, citing his concerns over the airport's growth prospects.

Schiphol, Europe's fifth-largest passenger airport, faces stagnating passenger growth due to a passenger tax imposed in July, while new anti-terrorism security costs and regulatory pressure to cut airport charges have hurt profits.

"We've asked Prime Minister Balkenende and the Justice Minister to contribute to this security cost," Cerfontaine said in an interview on Thursday.

He called on the government to scrap the passenger tax as soon as possible, or at the latest by 2012 when aviation is set to be included in the European Union Emission Trading Scheme, as it adversely affects the airport's competitiveness.

Some low-cost airlines have already stopped using the airport because of the tax.

Schiphol is now one of Europe's most expensive airports and the increased costs could threaten its network of connections, Cerfontaine told reporters at a press conference.

The airport operator reported on Thursday an 8 percent fall in first-half net profit excluding exceptional items and property gains to EUR88.4 million euros (USD$130.5 million).

"It is highly likely that as a consequence of the high kerosene prices and the worldwide deterioration of the economic climate, passenger volume in 2009 will, again, show no growth," Cerfontaine said.

(Reuters)



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