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at the end of the day, our fates are intertwined, come what may. Aviation is an industry built on partnership. During the volcanic ash shock, many European airports waived parking fees for airlines and other service charges and they didn’t make any big noise about it, seeking favours or anything – it was a natural response, in the spirit of partnership. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect a similar attitude from our airline partners.


What type of legislation do you support to better manage extreme situations such as the December snow?


The European Commission is due to review the EU Directive on Ground Handling later this year and for a long time now we have stressed the need for effective cooperation on the ground between all players and asked that airports be empowered by EU law to set minimum service and quality requirements for ground handlers. This would also complement the efficient delivery of the Single European Sky.


Is sufficient progress being made on the Single European Sky?


The programme has certainly made huge strides in the past three years and I would credit EU Transport Commissioner, Siim Kallas, EUROCONTROL and the SESAR Joint Undertaking with a lot of that progress. However, from the airports’ perspectives, the issue of matching capacity on the ground with increased capacity in the air is still not being given sufficient political visibility. Political stakeholders at all levels – local, national, European – need to take on board that increasing airspace capacity will be utterly pointless unless there is sufficient capacity on the ground. Ultimately, every aircraft needs to land at an airport.


How would a Single European Sky (SES) impact European airports? Airports are essential nodes in the air transport network and they will of course benefit from a reformed and more efficient air traffic control (ATC) system. Operationally, SES should lead towards a better integration of ground operations, with ATM operations and airports being recognised as ground coordinators. All this should help airports to optimise their own capacity. But SES will also require the acceptance by all actors of a different ‘operational culture’, as the aviation system will be managed with a strong focus on network performance, with local situations becoming less relevant. Financially, the cost efficiencies to be generated to the benefit of airlines through reduced ATM cost will also indirectly benefit airports. However, SESAR will also require investments by airports – and the local business case for these will not always be obvious since their operational benefit is expected to be felt at network level.


What is the outlook for Europe’s regional airports in 2011 and what is the biggest challenge currently facing them? Regional airports are now in a prime position to contribute to the economic regeneration and development of the communities they serve. With the low-cost carrier business model becoming dominant on intra-European routes and the prospect of further aviation liberalisation across the Mediterranean and to the east of Europe, the potential for further growth is clearly there. However, for all regional airports, keeping what we call ‘visiting costs’ – the overall costs of using the airport – at competitive levels is a key variable. This requires a holistic approach and the cooperation of all actors involved – including airlines, air traffic control and regulators. It is of course primarily about airport charges and the kind of incentives that we can offer to airlines. It is equally about avoiding increases in ATC charges at airports, as well as costs induced by security and safety regulations.


RN 97


“Aviation is an industry built on partnership. During the volcanic ash shock, many European airports waived parking fees for airlines and other service charges and they didn’t make any big noise about it”


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