During the Airports Council International (ACI) Europe’s annual reception in the European Parliament on 25 January, President Javier Marín commented on the specific challenge of the funding required to achieve the airport industry’s net zero carbon targets and compliance with Fit for 55. Alongside MEPs, the event attracted regulators, legislators and industry leaders, and included representation from the Mission of Ukraine to the EU.
Addressing a gathering of Europe’s political figures and regulators in the transport and aviation sectors, Marín, who is Managing Director of Spanish airport operator AENA, warned of the huge potential impact on the connectivity of regional airports given significant cost increases on intra-European routes. He specifically referenced the imbalance in financial support for decarbonisation between the EU and the US, as laid bare by the recently adopted US Inflation Reduction Act.
We need not just sticks from the EU but also carrots.Javier Marín, ACI Europe President
“It’s clear that more support mechanisms and more incentives should be put in place. In other words, we need not just sticks from the EU but also carrots”, Marín pointed out. “The current debate on how the EU should react to the US Inflation Reduction Act and its $370 billion subsidies makes that very clear well beyond our sector. In this regard it is essential that aviation be eligible for further support under the initiatives and instruments currently being devised by the Commission to keep pace with the US.”
With the extra costs brought on by having to hire additional staff to be able to handle the recovery of the travel industry and the energy crisis, Marín highlighted that many airports are still struggling and moving into 2023 with the fragility and volatility of financial recovery.
The solution he stressed is a passenger-centric approach to underpin regulatory decision making, ensuring that industry commitment to excellence and a desire to invest is matched by regulatory support. “Airports need visibility on future income to proceed with investments that meet not just the interests of passengers but also increasingly of our planet. To regulators we say: ensure that your decisions focus on long-term passenger interest, and not short-term airline costs”, Marín said.
Highlighting the continued focus on digitisation hand-in-glove with investment in decarbonisation, ACI Europe also unveiled the addition of an Innovation Forum to their suite of expert member-led working groups. This new Forum will bring together airports from across the wider European footprint with the mandate to work with regulators and policy makers to break down barriers to innovation and foster smart, sustainable and efficient airport operations.