Industry sees mixed reactions for new European state aid guidelines
The European Commission (EC) released on 20 February new state aid guidelines for the aviation sector, which will shape the public funding of European Union airports in the years ahead
The new guidelines have been received with mixed reactions from official trade bodies like Airports Council International (ACI) Europe, who welcomed the clarity that these guidelines would deliver, but also expressed concern about their medium term impact on regional airports and connectivity.Olivier Jankovec, director general of ACI Europe says: “European airports compete tooth and nail to retain and attract air services and these much awaited new guidelines provide a level-playing field upon which to do so…Hopefully, they will also bring an end to the squabbling between the different types of airlines, as the real world parameters of these new rules become clearer in the months ahead.”
However, the EC has fallen short of providing the long-term legal certainty needed for these airports as some of the rules set out by the guidelines will be reassessed in five years time. Jankovec and Jan Owe-Larsson, president East Sweden region, chairman of the AER working group on transport and regional airports says, “the new guidelines better reflect the operating realities of small airports, recognising that closing down on these would damage connectivity and kill regional communities, not only in remote and peripheral regions, but across Europe.”Although the outlook is positive, they cautioned the, “structural and financial challenges that regional airports face today are still going to be with us in 2019 and if anything, will have intensified.”
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