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European airports do not envisage a return to pre-Covid-19 air traffic until 2023


EUROPEAN UNION. Despite the lifting of the restrictive measures taken on transport, ACI Europe, the association of European airports, does not envisage a return to traffic in 2019 until 2023. It also complains that, unlike the main airlines, it has not benefited from government aid.



The European airports should only return to their cruising speed in 2023 (photo: F.Dubessy).
The European airports should only return to their cruising speed in 2023 (photo: F.Dubessy).
EUROPEAN UNION. Despite the ongoing lifting of the restrictive measures taken on transport to limit the spread of Covid-19, ACI Europe does not envisage a return to the traffic registered in 2019 until 2023.
In a press release published on Monday 8 June 2020, the association of European airports points out that during the month of May 2020, only 4.3 million passengers transited the European network of more than 500 airports, compared with 216.8 million in May 2019. A fall of 98%.

"With well over half a billion passengers lost so far this year and still without revenue, European airports are eagerly awaiting the lifting of travel restrictions and the resumption of airline operations. With the epidemic now defusing itself in many countries and a plan to allow intra-European travel - at least in the Schengen area - by the end of the month, we finally see some light at the end of the tunnel," comments Olivier Jankovec. However, the Director General of ACI Europe is under no illusions: "There is no way out, recovery will be slow and gradual, and the post-Covid-19 air market will be fundamentally disrupted and structurally very different".

He also states that "most national authorities rightly take a gradual approach, but it is extremely important that arrangements such as quarantine are risk-based and proportionate. If quarantine is used as a blunt instrument as it is in the UK, it will deal an economic and social blow from which we will all struggle to recover".

Call for a rebalancing of aid between airlines and airports

ACI Europe regrets that European governments have only supported airlines for a total amount approved to date of €24bn. An invoice that is expected to swell. Paris, Rome and Berlin alone have committed €19.3bn to support their former national airlines, without providing specific funding for their airports. "Keeping airlines afloat - or rather in flight - is obviously in the interest of airports. But this in itself does not guarantee their financial viability", insists Olivier Jankovec. According to him, "the current situation is creating huge imbalances in the air transport ecosystem. It takes us back to the time when the interests of the airlines commanded aviation policy, without any consideration for the other stakeholders in the industry - not to mention consumers".

The association therefore calls on the French, Italian and German governments to rebalance this aid. In particular, it recommends allowing airport employees to benefit from short-time working schemes under the most favourable conditions and beyond the summer months, granting financial compensation to airports for the costs of maintaining openness while travel restrictions have eliminated demand for air transport, as well as for the costs of implementing health measures. It also calls for further liberalisation of air traffic rights and a rapid return of unused airline slots to enable airports to contain costs by effectively matching resources and staff to the actual level of carrier operations.

 

Frédéric Dubessy


Monday, June 8th 2020



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