Brexit poses ‘big threat’ to small airports, conference told
Route development expected to slow across EU as uncertainty over UK’s EU exit persists
Kerry Airport: the EU’s regional airports, with fewer than a million passengers a year, depend most on the UK, which provides more than 15 per cent of their business.
The European Union’s smaller airports stand to suffer most from Brexit, a conference in Cork heard on Tuesday.
Olivier Jankovec, director general of the European arm of industry body Airports Council International (ACI Europe) warned that the uncertainty cast by the UK move could slow route development across Europe.
He pointed out that the EU’s regional airports, with fewer than a million passengers a year, depend most on the UK, which provides more than 15 per cent of their business.
“Without a clear resolution of that uncertainty in the near future, air transport in Europe risks facing significant disruption – with regional airports and their communities probably suffering the most,” he said.
Mr Jankovec was speaking at ACI Europe’s 10th Regional Airports Conference and Exhibition at Cork Airport.
He pointed out that airlines and airports would have to start planning for 2019, but with no indication of how the UK’s relationship with Europe’s single aviation market was going to work.
Europe’s regional airports are growing more quickly this year than in 2016. Over the first three months of 2017 they handled 7.9 per cent more passengers than during the same period last year.
The overall industry average for the first quarter was 6.9 per cent. This reversed last year’s trend, where growth in the smaller gateways lagged the sector as a whole.
In 2016, regional airports expanded at 4.3 per cent against an industry average of 5.1 per cent.
Alberto Martin, director of Canaria Airport and chair of ACI’s regional airports’ forum, said that ACI supported the European Commission’s aviation strategy, with its focus on growth, jobs and investment.
“But we are still calling for a better policy framework for regional airports across the board – from airport charges to safety and security,” he added.