A new EU Commission report has announced that some of the provisions introduced in May aimed at easing the financial pressure on aviation operators and ground handlers will be extended into 2021.
“The measures introduced in May provided much-needed relief for Europe’s aviation sector, so I am fully behind their extension where justified by the ongoing conditions,” said Adina Vălean, EU Transport Commissioner. “As we continue the fight against the pandemic and prepare the ground for recovery, a coordinated response will be essential. We do not consider flight bans effective in containing the pandemic, so we will not be extending the derogation providing more flexibility to Member States on flight bans.”
Several hundreds of planes grounded around Europe earlier this year, something the Commission wants to avoid. Parts of the Air Services Regulation in May have been amended:
- Airlines in temporary financial difficulty to keep their operating licence;
- Ground handlers whose contracts expire before the end of 2021 to keep them until 2022, making it easier for them to access loans;
- Airports to urgently replace their ground handling service provider should it suddenly go bankrupt;
- Member States to maintain flight restrictions if necessary.
The report recommends extending the derogation linked to operating licenses and the selection of ground handlers, due to expire on 31 December 2020, by one year. At this time, the Commission does see that an extension of the current derogation allowing the lengthening of ground handling contracts until 31 December 2022 is necessary. It will nonetheless continue to evaluate its decision. The Commission will not extend the flexibility on flight restrictions given that effective health measures seem to be more effective.
The report was delivered to the Council and European Parliament on the 13th November. The Commission is ready to consider further measures when justified to help the sector weather the crisis and recover, the report concluded.