The hoteliers of Aena raise to Pedro Sánchez the demand for a greater reduction in rents

The disagreement between Aena and a significant part of the tenants in the commercial areas of the airport network is far from being resolved. The two great unions, CC OO and UGT, next to Spanish Hospitality and Restaurant Brands, sign this morning a letter sent to the Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, in which they express their “concern and discomfort over the extremely serious situation suffered by companies and workers” with a presence at airports. These have to pay part of the rents agreed before the pandemic despite being severely affected by the collapse of air traffic and, therefore, of the demand in their establishments.

The four groups speak of “real risk” for the short-term viability of these companies and the permanence of 12,000 jobs, of which 75% are in ERTE situation. The problem for them is that the Government has already spoken, setting a 50% reduction in rents among the measures to support the hospitality sector.

The passage of travelers through the terminals had a 72% collapse last year, and in this start of 2021 it continues to be impacted by the health crisis. The problem fully affects some merchants who have signed the payment of an annual guaranteed minimum rent (RMGA) if the variable on sales, agreed with Aena in its concession contracts, does not reach that minimum level. The merchants demanded a rebalancing due to the pressing lack of income and Aena has offered the exemption of 100% of the rent between March 15 to June 20, 2020, a period affected by the confinement of the first state of alarm, and a reduction of the 50% from June 22 of last year to September 8 of this year. A measure that the signatories of the letter describe as “clearly insufficient”.

A court in El Prat de Llobregat has rejected the precautionary suspension of the payment of rent to Aena based on a guaranteed minimum income

Aena, however, claims to have gone further than what the Royal Decree Law 35/2020, of December 22, on urgent measures to support the tourism, hospitality and trade sectors. In fact, gives the aforementioned discounts as a final proposal.

With the dispatch of the rental invoices for 2020 earlier this month, approximately 40% of the merchants, representing 10% of Aena’s commercial invoicing, decided to adhere to the proposal. Important commercial operators such as Dufry, Areas the SSP. To the latter, the public company has sent the full rental amounts based on the aforementioned minimum guaranteed rent.

As reported by Cinco Días, Aena has granted one month for payment. But it says it has shown flexibility by maintaining its offer until the last minute so that the different chains and establishments, which until now have been reluctant, join it.

In the event of non-payment, the execution of guarantees or the tenants could choose to denounce the settlement offered by their landlord. An exit, the latter, with no guarantees of success. This morning it was known, as published The vanguard, that a court of first instance of El Prat de Llobregat has rejected the precautionary measures requested by the Catalan shoe company Tascón, with a presence at the Barajas and El Prat airports. His request was to suspend the payment of the guaranteed minimum rents for 2020.

Once the injunction was rejected, the aforementioned court has not yet decided whether the rent cut offered by Aena should go further in view of the breakdown of the economic financial balance of the concessions. On the contrary, in a similar case tried in Ibiza if the precautionary measure has been accepted in what has been read as a setback to the interests of Aena.

Between the reputational and the economic

“At stake is the quality service provided to the passenger, which we consider essential for the good image of our country as one of the main tourist destinations in the world,” can be read in the letter that has been sent to President Sánchez , where there is also talk of immobility on the part of Aena.

The company chaired by Maurici Lucena had budgeted for 2020 the entry of 800 million euros for guaranteed minimum income from its tenants. The agreement put on the table to alleviate the burden on merchants, hoteliers, financial institutions and others, means forgiving more than 400 million euros. The belligerent chains, however, demand that the canon be adapted to the actual billing they are having during the months of crisis. Unions and hospitality groups estimate that 100% of the RMGA for 2020 is up to seven times more than the income from commerce at airports.

Aena’s commercial clients complain that air traffic will not normalize until well into 2024, according to the forecasts of international organizations, despite the fact that the minimum income (RMGA) in terms of rents would return to figures prior to the pandemic in September of this year. In any case, it is likely that this depends on the evolution of the health crisis itself. This morning it was the airline with the highest traffic in Spain, Ryanair, which has shown hope that the success of the Covid-19 vaccine “will allow European citizens to enjoy their favorite places this summer”, in the words of Dara Brady, responsible for marketing of the airline.

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