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PRESS RELEASE: At the Airports Council International Europe (ACI Europe) Board Meeting, which took place on January 23rd, 2019, at Brussels, were debated a lot of problems which European airports are facing with.

 

First of all, there was discussed the EU proposal on Brexit without an agreement. The regulation proposed by the European Commission aims to ensure airline connectivity at the level of the European continent after 29 March 2019 and establishes that air services currently operated between Great Britain and EU-27 will be maintained for a further 12 months until March 2020. The document is important because it guarantees European citizens the possibility to use the routes operated by British airlines in the EU and to use European airlines in the Great Britain after the Brexit. Because it is foreseen a freeze of the routes and of the frequencies offered by British airlines once of the end of March 2019, the measure which is expected to be applied also by British authorities to European companies, it is estimated that in the end, 93,000 flights and 20 million passengers will be lost on EU 27 – Great Britain market.These figures will be unevenly distributed at European airports, but small and medium-sized ones are expected to be most affected by this situation. In this context, we mention that Brexit agreement negotiated between British  Government and UE, but rejected by The Great Britain Parliament  provided for more advantageous measures for both parties. 14% of  2.782000 passengers of Cluj International Airport in 2018 represent the traffic on British airports. For this reason , the evolution of the decisions regarding the Brexit will represent a major concern, so that the Cluj airport is least affected by the adverse effects of this situation.

 

The meeting agenda had also included an overview regarding the regulations for drones. Taking into account the opportunities for airport industry offered by this  new technologies, such as the runway inspections or the navigation equipment calibration and surveillances, it was concluded that there has to be a specified regulation, in order to avoid the same situations which disrupted operations at Gatwick and Heathrow Airports. During the debates which take places at European Aviation Safety Agency and European Commission regarding the drone, ACI Europe insists in establishing an explicit regulations concerning the airports demarcation on the exact areas around airports to be designated as ”no drone” access. The airports have to ensure that the technology that prevents drones from entering no-fly zones is equipped with geofence system which has the possibility either by sending the drones back or disabling them. In order to adopt this regulation, it was recommended to airports to review their ground drones detection capabilities and the preventing procedures regarding the drones entry in the airports areas. Also, the airports should ensure that tasks, responsibilities and the cooperation procedures between airports and authorities that apply the law, are being established by the regulative documents in effect, to prevent a similar situation like the British airports had.

 

Another problem brought up for discussion during the Board Member meeting was the European Commission’s decision of revising the airport charges directive. The Council members were concerned for the way that airlines use pressure on the European Commission to decrease the airport charges, taking into account that, their contribution represents the most significant financial support of an airport infrastructure. The European Commission frequently sustained that the main challenge of the European Aviation is the insufficient capacity of the airports to manage a traffic growth. However, taking into account the European harsh rules on competition generally in relation to State aid and the limitations imposed on authorities in relation to public funding in particular and the lack of legal certainty as to the application of the principle “ user pays "in the specific situation of airports there is a risk that airports will not be able to finance further development of the infrastructure. At the end, the most affected will be the passengers. The Council members decided to adopt a position concerning this situation and invited the European Commission to take measures regarding the development of quality infrastructure needed to accommodate air transport demand.

 

At the ACI Europe Conference, Cluj International Airport was represented by David Ciceo, the General Manager of the airport.

 

Brussels, January 23rd 2019