Prepare to “arrive earlier” at the airport than before

Prepare to “arrive earlier” at the airport than before

Cet été, préparez-vous «à arriver plus tôt» à l’aéroport qu’auparavant, prévient la principale european association de ces installations que, pour certaines, peinent à retrouver leur efficacité après la crise sanitaire, longues files d’attente à la wrench.

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In an interview with AFP on the sidelines of the annual congress in Rome of the European branch of the Airports Council International (ACI Europe), its director general, Olivier Jankovec, also defends the increases in airport charges denounced by the airlines, and warns against the ability of its members, financially strained by the COVID-19 pandemic, to meet its environmental goals.

QUESTION: Several European airports are already experiencing serious operational problems, with passengers waiting for hours, even before the peak of July and August. What is your message to travelers for this summer?

ANSWER: The airports, along with their partners, are doing everything they can to address this issue. A much faster (than expected) recovery, combined with an extremely tight job market, is causing many problems throughout the aviation ecosystem, from airports, airlines, ground handlers, police and border controls…

But it must also be stressed that the system has not collapsed. We are having difficulties in some airports, in some countries more than in others, but the system continues to work.

For passengers, it is important to contact the airlines in advance to know when they need to arrive at the airport, and to be prepared to arrive earlier than usual to ensure time to get through (paperwork), particularly if they have to check luggage .

The airports have taken many measures and I think they will begin to produce their effects in mid-July. Staff reinforcements will arrive, facilities and infrastructure will be reconfigured.

It will be tight, there will be disruptions, longer wait times, but at the vast majority of airports traffic will flow, people won’t miss their planes, and hopefully everyone will be able to get to their destination as planned.

Q: In this context, the airlines, represented by their international association, Iata, denounce the planned rate increases at many airports on the Old Continent…

A: Airlines around the world are raising fares… airports are facing the same challenges and inflationary pressures. Airlines have to pay more for their fuel, but we also incur energy and personnel costs, which together account for 45% of our operating budgets. And, of course, inflation drives up the price of materials. Today we have vendors who tell us “sorry, but the price of your work will increase by 50 or 80%”.

It seems that Iata believes that money grows on airport trees, but it does not. Europe has chosen to run airports as businesses in their own right, and this means that they are financed by their users, ie the airlines and the passengers. Iata dreams of a time when airports will still be used to indirectly subsidize companies. This is no longer the reality in which we live.

Q: Like all European companies, you have embarked on the path of decarbonisation, but you are coming out of the pandemic with very high debt. Is your ability to finance this transformation assured?

A: A question mark hangs over our ability to fund these projects. We want to get there, the teams and managers of the airports have very clear objectives, they must answer to the shareholders, we must have access to financing and these objectives (to reduce emissions) are part of the conditions of this financing.

But we must be able to finance our transition from an economic point of view. And we are not receiving the necessary help from Europe. The European Union has launched a recovery plan of 750,000 million euros to help the sectors most affected by the crisis and that must decarbonise. And that completely excluded European airports, which is very difficult to accept.

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