“Governments across Europe need to wake up to lasting financial weakness across the airport industry,” says ACI Europe

Europe’s airports are facing acute financial challenges that may affect decarbonisation, consumers, businesses and regional communities across the continent

ACI Europe has published its report on the financial recovery of airports following Covid-19, highlighting concerns around the costs involved with restarting operations as well as future investments due to a shortfall in funding and support.

Olivier Jankovec, director general of ACI Europe said: “Europe’s airports have already taken on more than €20 billion in additional debt last year – and for most airports, this debt is what is financing today’s operations, effectively allowing them just to keep going.” 

MAG Airports
Photo MAG Airports 

The report has also highlighted the imbalance in financial support that has been received by airlines around Europe – funding which has not been handed down to airports in the region. Airlines have been given added flexibility with slot waivers, which affect airport revenues and costs as slots remain unused and resources cannot be planned effectively.

Physical distancing requirements will keep limiting capacity with traffic concentrated in peak periods, while the need for airports to scale up capacity and resources at short notice will put further strain on financial reserves.                 

The report stated that ‘airport revenues are set to remain insufficient to meet capital expenditure and capital costs at least until 2032, raising the spectre of airports having no choice but to cut planned capital expenditure for the coming years.’  

ACI Europe goes on to describe measures that should be taken in order to take the strain off airports, including aligning regulation with climate goals, allowing airports to recoup their losses through airport charges, and regulation aimed at increasing airport competition and airline countervailing power.  

Jankovec concluded: “This is about looking at aviation as a balanced eco-system and putting the planet and consumers at the forefront. We cannot keep on regulating airports looking backwards, based on yesterday’s market realities and societal objectives superseded by the climate emergency. I am convinced we have more to gain working together through this crucial evolution than fighting each other.”