“Attacking regional airports is not the solution to the problem of fiscal and social dumping by low cost airlines”, said Franck Proust MEP on Tuesday afternoon during a panel discussion that was held in the European Parliament.
“Rather than endangering the survival of regional airports, the European Commission should regulate the relationship between traditional companies and low-cost airlines, and control the latter’s social and fiscal practices”, he said.
With the aim of giving a voice to all stakeholders, Franck Proust has invited representatives of local and regional airports to discuss with the European Commission the consequences of its proposal on control of public aid to airports.
“Regional airports have been a breath of fresh air for the regions”, said Franck Proust.
“In Europe, one airport in two is a regional airport. But regional airports are not like other companies. First and foremost, they all have a public service mission. But they are also essential tools for economic development and sustainable land use. They have helped many areas of Europe return to growth by creating hundreds of businesses and jobs: direct jobs, with airport management, maintenance, transportation, and indirect ones by installing technology parks, tourism and tax benefits”, he said.
The MEP relayed the concern expressed by all stakeholders, “If implemented, these rules clearly threaten the economic stability of dozens of regional airports in France and throughout Europe. The overwhelming majority of them do not reach a sufficient number of annual passengers to become completely profitable. The risk today is that many unprofitable airlines or airports will close down. Without public support, they are doomed to disappear”, he said.
All stakeholders have called on the European Commission not to make a simple calculation of “pure profit” to assess the profitability of the airport, but to take into account all of the induced economy. “In my area, the local community has invested two million in an airport. But the return on investment in terms of jobs created, businesses that have been set up, tourism and economic spin-offs, amounts to more than ten million”, said Franck Proust.
This hearing was an opportunity for a rich and lively debate among participants and panellists – Olivier Jankovec of ACI Europe, Philippe Aliotti from the Union of French Airports, Markus Pieper MEP, Vice-Chairman of the Committee on Regional Development, and Alain Alexis, representative of the European Commission.
“I hope that this constructive discussion will allow us to convince the European Commission to amend its proposal. I will continue to fight for it”, said Franck Proust in his conclusion.
EU Guidelines on State aid to airports and airlines
State aids to airports and airlines
regional development, air travel, Franck Proust, Transport and tourism