On behalf of airports across Europe, the industry trade body Airports Council International (ACI) Europe has called on the European Commission to urgently adopt an EU Recovery Framework for Aviation and for governments to provide the requisite funding to support airports – and the recovery of air connectivity.
With second lockdowns and travel restrictions now in place in countries across Europe the financial situation for airports is only expected to worsen in the coming weeks.
And while sustained air freight traffic remains a bright financial spot for airlines, its impact on airports is marginal, as the bulk of their revenues is linked to and dependent upon passenger traffic. In addition, airports, unlike airlines, do not get advance revenues as they are only paid after the services is provided and their facilities used. And while airlines have benefitted from more than €31.8 billion in financial aid from European Governments, the support extended to airports has been limited to €840 million.
“Large scale job losses and insolvency are no longer worst case projections for Europe’s airports,” said Olivier Jankovec, ACI Europe’s Director General. “We’re already looking down the barrel of the gun, and the crisis continues to deepen. The situation requires urgent and decisive action with an ad hoc Recovery Framework for Aviation at EU level enabling support beyond 2021 and governments providing financial support accordingly. That should include as a priority extending supportive employment schemes for all staff working at airports, compensating airports for lost revenues and supporting the rebuilding of air connectivity up to 2023.”
The European Commission has extended its Temporary Framework enabling EU States to support the companies affected by the pandemic until June 2021. However, ACI Europe argues this is insufficient to address the devastating and lasting impact of COVID-19 on aviation and on airports in particular. ACI Europe is requesting that this Temporary Framework should be extended to the end of 2021 and must be supplemented by a Recovery Framework for Aviation.
The latter should include compensation for damages due to COVID-19 remaining available for airports as long as travel restrictions by Member States are prevent the recovery of air traffic. There also needs to be a common framework allowing States to establish Air Connectivity Restart Schemes. These targeted and time limited schemes would allow support for the resumption of air routes suspended due to the pandemic until 2023 through a degressive per passenger contribution – on a non-discriminatory basis.
In addition Emergency Public Service Obligation orders should remain in place until the end of 2021 and immediate and longer-term adjustments to the 2014 Aviation State aid guidelines should be made to extend the possibility for airports to receive both operating and investment aid – with a particular focus on the financing of climate action and sustainability projects.