‘EU must address state aid to help airports’

ACI Europe’s Director General, Olivier Jankovec, talks to Airports International about the situation facing the sector – and discusses his solutions

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The European Union’s state aid framework “is no longer fit for purpose” and is “wholly inadequate” when it comes to airports, Olivier Jankovec, director general of ACI EUROPE, told Airports International during a video call today.

The global trade organisation has made an urgent appeal for changes to the rules, arguing that without it these collapsing industries will suffer irreversible damage in a constantly deteriorating situation.

Last night (Jan 19), a letter was sent by ACI EUROPE and the European Travel Commission (ETC) to Margrethe Vestager, European executive vice-president and commissioner for competition, which highlighted the impact of the tightening travel restrictions by countries across the continent.

Against such a bleak outlook, ACI EUROPE and ETC are urging Vestager to come up with more flexible and effective state aid rules that would enable countries to provide the financial assistance needed by airports and to support to air connectivity.

Jankovec commented: “The current COVID-19 state aid framework is no longer fit for purpose when it comes to airports. It involves limitations and conditionalities that are very hard to comprehend and that are simply unacceptable given the situation we are now facing – not to mention the fact that airlines have already been granted almost 15 times more financial aid than airports so far.”

The organisations have set out three core tasks to the Commission: the possibility for airports to obtain full compensation for damages due to COVID-19 and for as long as travel restrictions remain in place, the ability for facilities to be compensated for unrecovered fixed costs for as long as travel restrictions remain in place - without any cap or limitation of total amounts, and the possibility for sites to benefit from Air Connectivity Restart Schemes – whereby states can provide a direct per passenger subsidy to airlines restarting air routes previously operated or launching new air routes.