First Comments on the Airport Guidelines issued on 6 Sep. 2005 by the EU Commission
FARE and AER are seriously worried by the impact that the Guidelines* will have on the development of regional airports and on interregional air services within the EU.
Although the Commission maintains that its Guidelines* have been issued in order to favour the development of regional airports, FARE and AER are convinced that the Guidelines will certainly have a strong negative impact on regional airports and on the inhabitants and will dramatically affect the economies of the regions they serve. The Guidelines nullify all the efforts and results achieved by regional airports over the recent years. This in total contradiction with the very wish expressed by the Commission to favour regional airports.
FARE and AER bitterly regret that the Commission, and specifically Mr Barrot’s Cabinet, rejected their offer for a deeper cooperation, which would have allowed a better, closer to reality approach. FARE and AER demand that all parties and political bodies supporting the development of the many EU regions and of their regional airports make their voices heard, asking for a fast revision of the Guidelines. In all cases, FARE and AER are now considering the possibility of an appeal to the European Courts of Justice.
“With these Guidelines, the development of regional airports is really at risk,” stated Mr Pier Giorgio Ballini, Chairman of FARE, “The time for suggestions, recommendations, position papers and the like is over. Now it is time for action: this is why FARE is thinking to appeal to the European Courts of Justice”.
What’s wrong with the Guidelines*
FARE and AER need to stress the overall impracticability of the Guidelines* provisions concerning start up aid, as they are totally ignoring today’s air transportation industry practices. This remoteness of the Guidelines* provisions from the real commercial air transportation practices will, despite the declared intents of the Commission, very seriously endanger the present and future development of regional airports and air services to/from the many EU regions. In fact the Guidelines, although apparently supporting the development of regional airports:
– Define too short and rigid limitations (3 years) for the payment of start up aid
– Limit aid to new routes only, without taking into account the need to improve existing air services (e.g. from propeller to jet service, etc.)
– Does not allow for exemption of aid notification, not even in the case of start up aid for flights from very small airports, thus putting an unbearable administrative burden on small airports.
– Give precedence to train over air transportation, and neglect the needs of islands and isolated regions
– Rigidly prescribe costs eligible for compensation, in case of start up of a new route
– In short deny small airports the degree of flexibility, which is necessary in negotiation the start up of a new air service with an airline, in today’s difficult and highly competitive market conditions.
The provisions of the Guidelines are too rigid for regional airports to adapt and compete successfully in today’s air transportation market. If the Guidelines are not immediately revised, the development of regional airports and their regional communities, the EU citizens’ right to mobility, the overall EU territorial, economic and social cohesion will be very negatively affected. These Guidelines* will achieve in practice the very contrary of what they declare to be willing to achieve: i.e. the strengthening of hub airport concentration, the protection of big high fares airlines, the isolation of regional communities within the EU.
* “Community Guidelines on the financing of airports and start up aid to airlines departing from Regional Airports”
For more information: [email protected]