ACI Europe stresses urgent need for action in aviation sector

New analysis by ACI shows that passenger traffic does not correlate with positive rates of infection

At the ACI Europe virtual annual congress, association president Jost Lammers delivered a talk acknowledging the news that a potential vaccine has given hope to the aviation sector.

However, he also stressed that the industry would be unable to wait until an effective vaccine can be administered nationally.

“We need another immediate and interim solution to go through the winter and probably most of next summer,” stressed Lammers. “The solution lies in replacing quarantines for air travellers with testing. This is about doing better managing and reducing transmission risks – and saving livelihoods.”

From a recent analysis conducted by ACI Europe, the increased number of passenger traffic spreading over July, August and September did not correlate with a rise of COVID-19 infections.

The new data supports the European Centre for Diseases Prevention and Control’s (ECDC) position, which is that restrictions are not effective in the circumstances where community transmission is already present.

Within the report, findings also suggest that more time spent in the workplace is significantly correlated with a higher coronavirus positivity rate. Stringency measures and community mobility are both factors that are associated with the change of infection rate, not passenger movement.

Lammers further spoke about antigen testing, saying that it is a “step in the right direction”. He went on to explain that this now has to become a priority.

“We are deeply frustrated by the lack of effective co-ordination and progress at EU level on all these issues,” he said. “This is hurting livelihoods by the day. Many of our people have lost their jobs already, with more being at risk in the coming weeks.”

A balanced approach to financial support was brought up at the conference. A state aid framework would enable support to be given to the EU beyond 2021, with the help of national governments.

Proposals include the extension of supportive unemployment schemes, compensation to airports for lost revenues and connectivity support initiatives.

Lammers highlighted that there is a clear correlation between the industry’s need for financial support and the need for the sector to become more sustainable. “The airport industry has been at the forefront of Climate Action,” he said. “We started Airport Carbon Accreditation more than 10 years ago and the new certification levels we are launching today confirm our alignment with the Paris Agreement.”

Currently, there are around 200 European airports in the brink of insolvency, placing the entire industry under threat.