Key EESC messages
- To address capacity shortfall the EU's existing airport assets need to be used more efficiently. More intermodality, better connectivity, more efficient use of secondary hubs and small airports, bigger aircraft and optimisation of processes could be appropriate solutions. So too would adoption of the Airport Package, and implementation of the Single European Sky (SES) and SESAR. Airport capacity must become a full-fledged pillar of the SES.
- In the long-term, airport capacity will have to be built in the form of infrastructure such as terminals and runways. The main aim of airport expansion must be to improve connectivity on a sustainable economic basis. EU hubs must be provided with effective possibilities to meet growing demand, which includes the shortening of planning processes in order to be able to respond quickly to any demand that arises.
- Airport expansions – where justified – should form part of a balanced approach. First, airports have a positive economic impact on the neighbourhood. It is clear to the EESC that this positive impact has to be safeguarded. Second, environmental issues have to be assessed in a transparent manner. Third, airport expansions have a public dimension. This requires a public dialogue whose interlocutors include, for example, air traffic control, airport authorities, airlines, regional parties, local residents, government, etc.
- If capacity crunch is to be addressed with confidence by airports, consistency and clarity of regulatory treatment is essential to providing the necessary incentives to ensure long-term investment in infrastructure.
- Airport capacity also has a political dimension. The EESC strongly believes that the EU, together with Member States and stakeholders, including the social partners, has to make a general strategic decision on which airports will be important for the system and should be brought forward in the coming years. To maintain the competitiveness of EU aviation in globalised markets a European integrated aviation strategy, taking into account economic, environmental and social aspects as well as jobs creation, is urgently needed.