EU aviation stakeholders urge action to protect the industry and back calls for arrivals duty free

The report calls for urgent action to protect and support aviation in Europe (click to access)

EUROPE. Over 20 associations have joined together to launch a series of proposals for the recovery and relaunch of the European aviation sector, with calls for the European Union (EU) and its Member States to take urgent action and offer financial and other support. Their proposals have been brought together in the European Aviation Round Table Report, published today.

The associations represent airlines, airports, air navigation service providers, aeronautical manufacturing, trade unions, non-governmental organisations for environmental and consumer action, service providers, ground handling services, the duty free & travel retail sector (via the ETRC), airport coordinators, general and business aviation, express carriers, travel agents, tour operators, travel distributors, and the tourism sector.

Key proposals include a European Aviation Relief Programme spanning the EU and its Member States, plus an EU Pact for Sustainable Aviation.

In a chapter on the EU internal market and reinforcing the strength of European aviation on the world stage, a key recommendation reads: “The EU should allow duty free on arrival at EU airports in order to increase airports’ international competitiveness.”

This supports recent calls from the ETRC and ACI Europe to introduce the channel to EU airports to help generate additional business and ‘level the playing field’ with non-EU markets in the post-COVID-era. It also reflects ETRC’s efforts to ensure the duty Free & travel retail sector was considered during the drafting of the report.

The Report notes the importance of “restoring the public’s confidence in aviation” as a priority in ensuring recovery. In addition, the report highlights vital elements such as maintaining connectivity, skills and employment and preserving the European internal market in ensuring aviation’s recovery from COVID-19 and making European aviation more resilient to future shocks.

The travel, tourism, aviation and duty free associations that supported the report; click to enlarge

The associations also announced a joint commitment to working with policy makers to achieve net zero CO2 emissions by 2050. This aims to build a greener, socially and economically robust future for aviation, while supporting the European Union’s Green Deal objectives.

EU leaders are urged to support an EU Pact for Sustainable Aviation by the end of 2021 “by contributing the policy and financial framework required to enable European aviation to deliver on its sustainability commitments”.

This will ensure that recovery efforts are compatible with European citizens’ expectations about cleaner transport, with aviation employees’ needs for a socially sustainable and responsible aviation sector balanced with aviation stakeholders’ desire for a robust, safe and coordinated recovery from the crisis, said the report.

To further reduce aviation’s environmental footprint and achieve decarbonisation, the Pact calls for, among others:

  • An EU legislative framework to promote the uptake, production and deployment of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs);
  • Funding and investments to enable the acceleration of low-carbon aircraft innovations, such as electric and hydrogen;
  • –  An incentive scheme for fleet renewal, coupled with retirement;
  • Increased public co-funding rates for Civil Aviation Research & Innovation (Clean Aviation and SESAR) through EU recovery mechanisms;
  • The revision of the Single European Sky (SES) and continuation of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme/ CORSIA.

European Commission Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager said: “The aviation sector has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak. Since March, we have worked closely with Member States in their efforts to support this industry, which plays an important role in terms of jobs and connectivity. Today’s industry report provides important food for thought both for immediate issues and forward-looking challenges.

“Because environmental sustainability and the role of digitisation is a prerequisite for the modernisation and decarbonisation of the EU aviation system. In this unprecedented situation, we will continue our close cooperation with Member States and the aviation sector, to find workable solutions to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak, in line with EU rules.”

European Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean said: “I welcome today’s report from the aviation sector and civil society on what is needed to rebuild passengers’ trust, and for the recovery of this hard-hit sector, which remains critical for global supply chains and people’s mobility. It offers a vision of how to make the sector stronger, more sustainable and more forward-looking than it was before the COVID-19 pandemic. I applaud the commitment to reach net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050, and the proposal to create a pact for social sustainability. This is fully in line with our ambitions for the future growth of the EU.”

The report’s authors note that Europe’s aviation sector supports almost 10 million jobs and €672 billion in European Union economic activity, including 4.2% of all EU jobs and 4.2% of the EU’s GDP.

They highlight the fact that aviation is a key economic sector which has been “hit first and hit hardest” by the COVID-19 crisis, and that requires urgent action to “put it back on a path towards a sustainable recovery and future, operationally, financially, socially and environmentally”.

The report also recognises that the aviation sector “cannot merely wait for a resumption of business as usual and that urgent action is required so that aviation can continue to be a primary enabler of our global economy in the future”.

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