AENA plays a large part of its commercial future this Thursday in the Congress of Deputies. The Lower House will vote on an amendment that proposes the reduction of the rents that the airport manager charges for its premises, a measure that already passed the Senate court last week despite the unfavorable vote of the PSOE. If the proposal goes ahead, the public company will face an accounting hit from between 1,200 and 2,000 million euros.
They are the calculations that market analysts handle. In AENA they assure that they are
still outlining his own estimate, although they already admit that a vote against in Congress would be a tremendous blow to their balance sheet. The amendment would exempt from the payment of the minimum annual rent guaranteed to the tenants of the airports during the first state of alarm (between March and June 2020) and would adapt that rent thereafter to the passenger traffic of the airports with respect to that registered in 2019. The data for August of this year reflect a price drop of more than 60%, so that would be the discount that would be applied to rentals.
The sources consulted they anticipate a close vote. In the Senate, the measure had the support of such diverse groups as the PP, ERC, Bildu, PDeCAT and Coalición Canaria, although it is not ruled out that some of these formations modify the direction of their vote. On the one hand, the PSOE is trying to convince its government partners to vote against the proposal; on the other, the tenants try to convince the rest of the formations.
“We have had a good reception among politicians, and we have spoken with various formations,” explains Manuel Zea, president of Aecoa (Spanish Association of Commercial Airport Operators) to this newspaper. The organization assures that the airport manager has shown greater willingness to dialogue with its tenants in some of the airports it manages outside of Spain. In addition, he considers that his rejection will lead dozens of companies to bankruptcy: “There are already some in bankruptcy,” highlights Zea.
airport manager has a completely different view. AENA assures that behind the amendment are three large multinationals that do not need, far from it, rent reductions to survive the crisiss. The public company highlights that 75% of its commercial income is made up of three large companies: Dufry (54%), Áreas (15%) and SSP (6%). “We have already offered discounts valued at 800 million euros, rent reductions accepted by 67% of contracts,” they highlight in the public company.
There are also discrepancies on the way in which the unsuccessful negotiation has been carried out. While, AENA highlights that its latest offer (a 100% reduction in rent during the first months of the pandemic and 50% until September of this year) improved the decree approved by the Government regarding commercial rentals, the tenants explain that the public company “He came to offer discounts according to the decrease in traffic at first”. “Not even the PSOE was aware of these initial proposals,” highlights Zea.
The unions, with the tenants
In the midst of this struggle, the unions have positioned themselves this Wednesday with the tenants. FESMC-UGT and CCOO-Servicios have recalled in a statement that “the level of air traffic, one of the areas most affected by the covid-19 crisis, is still in a gradual recovery phase”, for which they have advocated for “Adjust the rents of the commercial areas of AENA to real traffic, in line with the amendment approved by the Senate and which will be discussed tomorrow in the Congress of Deputies.” Of course, “linking these measures to express commitments to maintain employment and respect current labor agreements.”
AENA legal sources consider that the approval of the amendment in the Congress of Deputies would mean “A bankruptcy of legal security and a legislative expropriation”. “The amendment deprives the person who is harmed, the national operator, of judicial protection, who would have to renounce, by legal imperative, the agreements reached or the favorable judicial resolutions, at the expense of its shareholders, including the Spanish State” , these sources explain.