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European airports call to tackle capacity crisis

With air traffic set to double by 2020 to an unprecedented 2 billion passengers, the threat posed by the capacity crisis is mounting. Regardless of how far European airport operators squeeze the most out of existing capacity the reality is that new runways and terminals are the only way to accommodate future demand. The aviation industry must work in partnership to meet both the environmental and financing challenges of the anticipated demand, otherwise air travellers will soon face widespread delays and severe congestion at Europe’s main airports.

Addressing an audience of industry stakeholders in London at the launch of a joint ACI EUROPE-EUROCONTROL publication - ‘A Vision for European aviation’ - Roy Griffins, Director General of ACI EUROPE, said that “if Europe’s aviation industry is to tackle the capacity crisis then Europe’s airports, air navigation service providers, airlines and manufacturers must work together”. He added that “airline claims of excessive airport charging are not supported by the facts. The reality is that airport charges, used to fund infrastructure investments, are a relatively small proportion of airline costs. ICAO figures indicate that airport charges have remained stable at about 4% of airline operating costs on average over the last 30 years.”

Airlines and travellers alike rightly expect airports to deliver a quality service. To ensure this, airport operators need to make long-term decisions for the future. European airports are providing massive levels of investment* in infrastructure and facilities and like any product, such investment has to be paid for. “Failing to invest for the future now would be damaging for the long-term wellbeing of the entire aviation industry”, commented Roy Griffins.

Mr. Griffins also announced that ACI EUROPE, as part of its ‘Building for the future’ strategy, is commissioning an in-depth and far-reaching examination of the financing of major airport investment. This study will assess the capital requirements for Europe’s airports over the next 10 years, and how these requirements can be funded.