Don’t Touch My Bags If You Please

I’m not going to turn this blog into all Cluj-Napoca all the time but once again the moronic team running Cluj (actually the county of Cluj this time rather than the city) have dropped the ball:

Low-cost airline Wizz Air will reduce its transport capacity on Romania’s Cluj-Napoca International Airport by 26% as of May 5, moving its operations to the Targu Mures Airport, because of new and increased airport taxes.

Wizz Air vice-president John Stephenson said, in a press conference on Thursday, that the company will move an Airbus A320 from Cluj-Napoca to Targu Mures, as well as the flights to Dusseldorf, Rome and Dortmund. This move was prompted by Cluj-Napoca Airport management’s decision to raise taxes and introduce new ones, he said.

There you go. The city spent untold millions of euros upgrading the airport and improving the runways and now they just lost a good deal of traffic from one of their major carriers. Note the reason too – raising taxes and introducing new ones.

I’ve noticed that there is a mentality prevalent throughout all levels of Romanian government that “increased fees/taxes will result in increased revenue”. Frankly it doesn’t take an economic genius to realize that this is some pretty poor logic.

The second facet of being a proper Romanian official is to never accept responsibility:

Cluj-Napoca International Airport manager David Ciceo said Wizz Air’s decision was “unjustified.”

Really? Because here’s what Wizz Air said:

John Stephenson, Executive Vice President of Wizz Air [said] “It is hard to understand why Cluj Airport increases charges in the middle of the economic crisis in Romania losing a quarter of a million passengers and putting hundreds of jobs in the region on jeopardy.”

It’s not “unjustified” in the least, you stupid ninny! There are hundreds of thousands of people who want to fly to northern Romania, especially Hungarians (Wizz Air is a Hungarian airline) and the fees are lower in Tirgu-Mures than in Cluj. Therefore Wizz Air is going to land in T-M instead of Cluj. Duh.

Not only does David Ciceo run the Cluj Airport, he is the president (Ro) of the Romanian Airports Association. Nice!

I’ve been to the Cluj airport many times. Mr. Ciceo can talk all he wants to about increased costs but there are exactly four stores in the entire airport, an overpriced restaurant (which you can only get to after passing through security), a Turabo coffee shop, a currency exchange window and a rental car agency. Supposedly there’s a duty free shop somewhere but I’ve never seen it. Oh and there’s a newsstand in an adjacent building that if you don’t know it exists, you’d never find it.

That’s all there is for the fourth busiest airport in the entire country. Meanwhile there’s plenty of advertising spots for sale and apparently not many takers. If you want to increase revenue, how about get some more businesses in the airport itself?

Here is a list of Cluj airport’s fees by the way. And here is the same information for Tirgu-Mures’ airport. Notice any difference? T-M is a lot cheaper. In fact, it looks like Cluj’s fees are around 50% higher than T-M’s. Nice.

And last but not least, Cluj Airport’s development plan:

Având în vedere cerinţele pieţei pe termen mediu şi lung, Aeroportul Internaţional Cluj-Napoca urmăreşte atragerea unor noi operatori aerieni şi deschiderea de noi rute spre destinaţii strategice de pe întreg cuprinsul continentului european. Totodată, întrucât piaţa este într-o continuă mişcare şi este marcată de criza economică mondială, se acordă atenţie consolidarii curselor existente şi măririi frecvenţelor pe aceste destinaţii, dar şi introducerii altora noi.

Or in my English translation:

Keeping in mind the market’s medium and long-term demand, the Internationl Cluj-Napoca Airport is taking steps to attract new airlines and open new flights to all strategic destinations in continental Europe. However, since the market is in constant motion and is being affected by a world-wide financial crisis, we are focusing on consolidating our existing routes and increasing the number of flights to these destinations as well as introducing new ones.