Iata director general Giovanni Bisignani said the airports should become more transparent in their financial dealings with airlines which last year paid $US45 billion in airport and air traffic control charges.
"But ACI has failed to lead its members toward the efficiency that is the reality of aviation today," Mr Bisignani said. "Their current business models hide inefficiencies and rake in profits.
"The proof is in ACI's statement that airports have been stable and profitable during the most turbulent five years in aviation history; that is a comfortable situation which must be challenged.
"They cannot consider airlines as cash cows."
Mr Bisignani said airports often built "expensive cathedrals" rather than tailoring new facilities to meet carriers' needs.
He urged ACI to benchmark efficiencies and become more transparent as a first step to improving airports' dealings with airlines. But he said he could not estimate what savings might come from a new model.
"I don't know how much we can expect to get from airports but if you don't push you don't get," he said.
Mr Bisignani said airport charges were highest in Latin America, Asia and some parts of Europe.
Iata has been driving increased efficiencies in the airline industry, saving $US350 million with new landing procedures at Hong Kong and constantly helping carriers find economies in new route planning.
- Graeme Kennedy
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