Europe’s airports ‘looking down the barrel of a gun’

European airports association ACI Europe has called for urgent state aid for airports and urged the European Commission to adopt an EU Recovery Framework for Aviation.

ACI Europe has previously warned “close to 200 airports” are near to insolvency.

In a statement, the association warned: “The financial situation of the European airport industry will worsen in the coming weeks.”

The association pointed out: “Unlike airlines, airports do not get advance revenues. They are only paid after facilities are used.”

ACI Europe reported Europe’s airports have so far received a total of €840 million in government support while airlines “have benefitted from more than €31.8 billion in financial aid from European governments”.

It warned that “without urgent intervention, cash burn by airports, already at unsustainable levels, will only accelerate along with job losses”.

The association noted the strong demand for air cargo, which has offered some financial relief to airlines, is having a “marginal impact” on airports with “the bulk of their revenues dependent upon passenger traffic”.

It called for a Recovery Framework for Aviation to include:

Compensation for damages due to Covid-19 to be available for airports for as long as travel restrictions prevent a recovery.

A common framework to establish Air Connectivity Restart Schemes which “would allow support for the resumption of routes suspended due to the pandemic until 2023 through a contribution per passenger”.

Adjustments to state-aid guidelines to allow airports “to receive operating and investment aid”.

ACI Europe director general Olivier Jankovec said: “Large scale job losses and insolvency are no longer worst-case projections for Europe’s airports.

“We are looking down the barrel of the gun. The situation requires urgent and decisive action.

“This should include as a priority extending supportive unemployment schemes for all staff working at airports, compensating airports for lost revenues and supporting the rebuilding of air connectivity.”

Jankovec said: “Helping airports to stay afloat and supporting air connectivity means protecting livelihoods in regional communities across Europe.”

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