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  • Chris Schutte

ACI: Almost 200 European airports face insolvency in coming months

Airports Council International has issued a stark warning on the future of European airports, as new data shows a loss of nearly 1.3 billion passengers at European airports since January.

ACI Europe said that an estimated 193 airports face insolvency “in the coming months”, if passenger traffic does not start to recover by the end of the year.

Figures for September show a year-on-year decrease in passenger numbers of 73 per cent, equating to 172.5 million lost customers.

And ACI warned that the situation was on “a clear downward trajectory”, with traffic down 75 per cent for the month to mid October, and 80 per cent for airports in the EU / EEA / Switzerland / UK footprint.

The Council said between them the airports facilitate 227,000 jobs and €12.4 billion of European GDP, and warned that “The threat of airport closure means Europe faces the prospect of the collapse of a significant part of its air transport system – unless Governments step up to provide the required support. So far, few have done so.”

ACI said that the regional airports – “which serve – and are integral to – local communities “ – were the most at threat of insolvency, and warned that “The potential ripple-effect upon local employment and economies is clear”.

The Council also said that the top 20 European airports had increased their debt by some €16 billion, equating to nearly 60 per cent of revenues in a normal year.

Commenting on the news Olivier Jankovec, director general of ACI Europe, said:

“In the midst of a second wave, ensuring safe air travel continues to be our primary concern. It’s crucial that we reduce the risks of importation and dissemination as much as possible. But surely we can do a much better job of reducing those risks by testing air passengers rather than with quarantines that cannot be enforced.”

“The figures published today paint a dramatically bleak picture. Eight months into the crisis, all of Europe’s airports are burning through cash to remain open, with revenues far from covering the costs of operations, let alone capital costs. Governments’ current imposition of quarantines rather than testing is bringing Europe’s airports closer to the brink with every day that passes.”

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