regional airports across Europe have joined forces to defend their strategic
interests as the European Commission (EC) prepares to clarify state-aid rules in
the light of recent legal cases involving subsidies to low-fare carriers
operating to secondary airports.
Forum of European Regional Airports (FARE) was officially established earlier
this month by 26 regional airports meeting at London Stansted. A further six
airports have indicated they want to join the forum.
will be chaired by Pisa Airport chief Pier Giorgio Ballini and vice-chairmen
include Bart De Boer, chairman of Eindhoven Airport chairman Bart De Boer, Limoges
Airport general manager Thierry Decrock, Brussels South Charleroi Airport
director Laurent Jossart, and Alghero Airport vice-chairman Gavino Pinna.
new group says it will work in support of partnerships between low-cost
carriers and regional airports for the development of intra-EU air services,
“making the voice of regional airports heard with the European Commission and
with the member states, in defence of the right to air mobility of the regional
communities they serve”.
says, for example, that the doubling of passenger traffic within five years to
2 million at Pisa Airport is attributed directly to its welcoming low-cost
carriers in 1998. It now has seven operating there.
EC has just issued a formal consultation on proposals to limit public financial
support for new route development from regional airports. It is proposing to
restrict aid to covering 30-50% of the additional start-up costs associated
with generating new routes at regional airports.
tells ATI that FARE will respond to the EC consultation document on fair
competition by the end of February. But he says that the EC should remember that
the flexibility of regional airports to adapt to, and negotiate with, low-cost
airlines has allowed them to create traffic growth and economic benefits for themselves
and their communities.
these deals be endangered by a rigid, biased interpretation of the EC decision,
or by rigid guidelines, these regional airports would simply lose their air
services and their traffic, as airlines would employ their fleets elsewhere
between locations of higher strategic value, higher population and lower
economic risk,” says Ballini.
airport forum was first discussed informally by member airports last year as a
means to defend and represent their interests following the EC ruling on the court
case involving Ryanair and Brussels South Charleroi Airport. During a second
meeting held in Pisa last May, 32 European regional airports approved the first
FARE position paper.
says that although the issue of fair competition regulation by the EC is an
important one, FARE will seek to address a variety of other issues faced by
members are all members of Airports Council International but we believe that,
as regional airport operators, we have specific issues,” he says, adding that
an early objective will seek to establish a FARE representative airport in each
of the European Union’s 25 member states.