Airport capacity crunch to cost Europe €230bn

ACI Europe says airports must reboot capacity plans

Failing to free up capacity at Europe’s major airports will cost the continent hundreds of billions of euros, the president of the air transport association ACI Europe warns.
Speaking at the joint ACI Europe & ACI World annual assemblies taking place in Istanbul this week, Declan Collier shared his views on the challenges facing European aviation – and airports in particular.
Collier strongly criticised the fact that, despite recessionary pressures and the weak economic prospects affecting most of Europe, there was little appetite to capitalise on the strategic role aviation can play for growth and jobs.
“Short-termism, micro-politics, regulatory burden, red tape, bilateralism and the urge to refill state coffers are the forces that continue to pay havoc with the European aviation sector,” he said. “Few European countries have a thoroughly thought-through and fully formulated aviation policy. Long-term challenges are being ignored at our peril.”
Despite slower traffic growth prospects in the next 20 years, Europe faces a severe airport capacity crunch, he warned. Airports have been forced to sharply reduce their capacity expansion plans, due to revenue pressures, capital costs, a lack of political support, poor planning processes and decreasing confidence.
In 2008, airports’ plans provided for a 40% increase in capacity by 2030, but these plans have been cut back, with capacity now expected to increase by just 17% by 2035. This will result in 12% of demand for air transport not being accommodated due to insufficient airport capacity – or 1.9 million flights per year unaccommodated with 237 million passengers unable to fly.
While this airport capacity crunch will be more acute in Turkey, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Hungary, Germany, Poland and Italy, it will have severe repercussions throughout Europe, Collier said.
“The airport capacity crunch is set to cost airlines and airports in excess of €40 billion of lost revenues per year by 2035. In addition, you need to add close to €5 billion in congestion costs. But ultimately, this is not going to be just about aviation – but about Europe’s global relevance and economic performance. Insufficient airport capacity will cost €230 billion in lost GDP to Europe – that is a lot of economic activity and a lot of jobs that we cannot afford to lose.”
Airports International
[Photo: Swedavia/Tommy Säfström]