PARIS (eTN) – Following the Airports Council International (ACI) Europe’s general assembly in Paris, ACI-Europe director Olivier Jankovec shares in an exclusive with eTurboNews European airports’ point of view on the current air transport crisis.
The crisis in the air transport industry is serious with the increase in fuel prices. How can airports help airlines to withstand the storm?
Olivier Jankovec: Of course, we monitor carefully the situation with airlines and airports have over the last decade offered more flexible approach to airlines because of the deregulation. We ate now in strong competition to each other, which has translated into very competitive airport charges in most cases in Europe. If I look at data provided by the AEA (Association of Europe an Airlines), airport charges have steadily decreased in real terms over the last years. Airports drive today competition as they lure also airlines with interesting offers. And this is something new…
Airport charges are not so cheap for larger airports, however.
Jankovec: It is true also that very big airports have also the task to accommodate more and more aircraft and passengers. And requirements from both airlines and passengers in terms of quality-especially space- are getting higher. It implicates then very substantial investments from airport authorities. For example, Aéroports de Paris alone invested over the last years 730 million euros, a peak since its creation. This is where our vision of air transport with airlines differs. They can adapt their offer in a very short term; we must plan for the long term.
To come back to an eventual help to airlines, how could you act?
Jankovec: If the situation continues to deteriorate, we will see airports certainly step in to soften cost rises. Already, airlines do not pay today the full cost of services at airports as a lot of our revenues come from non-aeronautical activities. However, helping airlines with financial incentives must be a win-win situation. Airports can’t afford to fall in a delicate financial situation.
Do you expect harder times over the next few months?
Jankovec: In April, passengers traffic in Europe increased by only 1.5 percent, the lowest growth rate in the last five years. And 43 percent of our airports recorded a negative evolution. It seems that May looks better however but I expect a contraction in flight numbers this winter as many airlines will adjust their timetable. However, it is difficult to tell now how long and how deep the crisis might go as we do not have a crystal ball! The only way for us to go on is to anticipate any evolution.
To finish, European airports are also more involved into the protection of the environment. Can you mention us ACI Europe latest initiatives in carbon dioxide reduction?
Jankovec: Our commitment to reduce carbon emissions at European airports started already a few years ago. According to our figures, European airports own operations account only for up to 5 percent of aviation’s total carbon dioxide emissions, which are estimated at 2 percent of all global emissions’ impact on climate change. Some authorities such as Swedish airports have been for long leader with their initiatives to cut emissions. However, we will go further as we adopted a landmark environmental resolution for our 440 member airports, which represent 45 European countries and account for 90 percent of European commercial air traffic. We are committed to reduce carbon emissions from airports’ own operations with the ultimate goal of becoming carbon neutral. But we also set out a roadmap to establish a European wide accreditation scheme allowing airports to achieve this commitment. This means that we will provide our members within the next 12 months with a tool to make it happen.