European airline chiefs hit out at Europe’s biggest airports claiming they make “supernormal” profits and demanding the EC address an “abuse of market power” this week.

But airports association ACI hit back by denouncing the airline bosses’ claims as “hollow” and “a massive lie”.

The heads of Europe’s biggest carriers – including IAG, Lufthansa, Air France-KLM, easyJet, Ryanair and Norwegian – backed an Airlines for Europe (A4E) statement alleging “market power abuse” by major airports and demanding revision of the EU Airport Charges Directive.

A4E said a report on ‘The Cost and Profitability of European Airports’ suggested: “European passengers are paying excessive airport charges, particularly at monopoly airports.”

Thomas Reynaert, A4E managing director, denounced “the supernormal returns by airports” and called on the EC “to accelerate its evaluation”.

Reynaert said: “Airports enjoy significant market power and are using this to price excessively. Airports don’t operate in a competitive market and abuse their market power.”

He claimed: “There is little regulatory scrutiny.”

However, ACI Europe director general Olivier Jankovec hit back, pointing out: “Airlines are posting record profits on the back of improving pricing power and oil prices which they do not pass on to consumers.”

He denounced an A4E claim that airports are “connectivity disruptors” as “a massive lie”.

Jankovec said: “Europe’s airports subsidise airlines to the tune of €10.4 billion a year. This is the gap between airport revenues from charges and airports’ total costs.

He added: “This is a model that some of A4E’s members have abused extensively.”

Jankovec said: “The shallow nature of this attack is typical of how some European airlines have decided to lobby for a revision of the EU airport charges directive.

“There is no systemic market or regulatory failure.”

He added: “Most airlines do not even effectively refund airport charges and ticket taxes to passengers who do not take their flight.”