Europe looking at ways to restore air connectivity
ACI Europe has today called for full EU co-ordination and alignment on how current restrictions to air travel should be lifted.
The call comes as a number of European states have begun to work on the progressive lifting of confinement measures.
EU transport Ministers are also due to meet tomorrow to address the challenge of restoring transport services, connectivity and the free movement of people and goods.
Munich Airport CEO and ACI Europe president, Jost Lammers, says: “Air connectivity has essentially collapsed and with it not just tourism, but scores of other businesses relying on the physical flow of people and goods – both across the Single Market and globally.
“Protecting livelihoods now requires planning for how we can reconnect our communities, and that must be fully and effectively coordinated at EU level. We cannot afford to exit this crisis the way we got into it.”
According to ACI Europe, airports stand ready to assist and co-operate with health and aviation authorities to restart operations in the safest way for passengers and staff.
“Air connectivity will be restored gradually, based on the convergence of the epidemiological situations between different countries and regions,” adds Lammers.
“But there must be alignment as to how such convergence will be assessed and the related implications on travel. There must also be coherence when it comes to the operational measures that both airports and airlines will need to comply with.
“This is going to be essential if we want these measures to be not only effective – but also to secure public confidence. This means that these measures must be the same or at the very least equivalent not just for the whole air transport network, but also between transport modes and across other tourism industries.”
ACI Europe states that COVID-19 related operational measures at airports will also need to be risk-based, implementable, flexible (scalable both up and down), cost effective and temporary.
It notes: “They should be publicly financed since protecting health falls within the public remit. Against that background, there is no doubt that full and effective co-ordination at EU level and with industry will be the single most crucial factor in the restoration of air connectivity.”
The airport sector continues to suffer devastating losses as a result of the pandemic, with Europe’s airports losing 235 million passengers between March 1 and April 19 alone.
Along with its call to EU Transport Ministers, ACI Europe revealed its latest estimate of a loss of 1.4 billion passengers in 2020 (-57%) for Europe’s airports, along with a loss of €32 billion passengers in revenues (-55%).
This means that, for now, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is set to be 14 times that of the Global financial crisis.