Airports face irreversible consequences if they do not receive support, Airports Council International (ACI) Europe has warned.
The association issued the warning as it revealed that passenger traffic dropped 98.6% in April, with airports welcoming only 2.8 million passengers across Europe.
ACI warns that smaller regional airports were already facing structural financial viability challenges. Their business is often seasonal, receiving 70% of revenue in the summer holiday period but they face the risk of travel and border restrictions not being lifted.
Olivier Jankovec, director general of ACI Europe, said, “Europe’s airports are on their knees” with passenger losses expected to exceed half a billion passengers by the end of May.
“All their revenue sources have essentially dried up, most of their staff furloughed and investments stopped – yet cash is still flowing out in running costs as most have remained at least partially open.”
ACI Europe is calling for airports to be supported. In its Off the Ground project, ACI Europe is calling for the European Commission to revisit state aid rules.
It wants maintenance of airport operations to count as a public remit that can be financially compensated without being viewed as state aid; and a temporary suspension to the 2014 Aviation State Aid Guidelines so airports with up to three million passengers can receive public financing.
ACI Europe is calling for a coordinated effort to help lift travel restrictions including quarantining travelers.
Measures including cleaning and sanitizing, and protective equipment for staff will make traveling safer but social distancing will be challenging for airports.
Jankovec said, “As long as physical distancing will be part of deconfinement strategies for all transport modes, airports should be required to ensure it in ways that are operationally feasible and under conditions that are effective at reducing transmission risks.”