Airports Council International (ACI) Europe has released new research detailing investments and charges made by the top 21 airports in Europe over the past 10 years. The statement is allegedly in response to claims by airline association Airlines for Europe (A4E) that charges at the top 21 EU and EFTA airports increased by 80% since 2005.
ACI’s research has found that the top 21 airports in the EU and EFTA invested more than €53bn (US$60bn) in their facilities over the past 10 years, delivering additional capacity of close to 178 million passengers. The additional capacity matched traffic growth at the 21 airports as they welcomed an additional 168 million passengers in 2015 when compared to 2005. The additional capacity also allowed the airports to increase their total connectivity by 51.6% and their direct connectivity by +10.7%.
In addition to creating new capacity, the investment also delivered increased quality. According to the independent ASQ surveys carried over the same period, passenger satisfaction increased by 12.4% at these same airports during that time.
Olivier Jankovec, director general of ACI Europe, said, “Europe’s major airports show that airport investment is not about building Taj Mahals. It is about boosting capacity, quality and ultimately air connectivity for Europe, which means a direct and very substantial contribution to economic growth and job creation. The €53bn (US$60bn) was invested in strategic infrastructure without weighing on public finances. As such, it complements the European Strategic Investment Fund and is essentially driving the objectives of the EU Aviation Strategy.”
Regarding increased charges, ACI Europe found that Europe’s top 21 airports increased their charges by an average of 25.4%, the equivalent of less than €3 (US$3.40) per passenger over 10 years. This increase in airport charges is equivalent to, or below, price changes in essential products and services such as education (+30.8%), electricity (+30.8%) or water supply (+25.3%).
Jankovec added, “A4E and its airline members behave like Alice in Wonderland, where money apparently grows on trees. Whether we like it or not, European governments are no longer willing to pay for airport infrastructure – and EU rules now forbid state aid to large airports on competition grounds. This is not what may be happening in other parts of the world, but this is our reality here in Europe – and this means that airlines need to come to terms with paying a fair share of the costs involved.”