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Eurocontrol States’ decision to defer ATC charges until November provides airlines short-term liquidity relief amid COVID-19 crisis

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EUROCONTROL States agree a €1.1 billion deferral package to assist airlines

The EUROCONTROL Member States have agreed on a financial package enabling airlines to defer the payment of up to €1.1 billion of air traffic control fees due for payment to Europe’s air traffic management industry in the coming months.

As a result of COVID-19, the number of flights operating daily in European airspace has declined by 90%. This dramatic reduction in operations is likely to continue for a number of weeks to come and therefore the airline industry had sought the support of EUROCONTROL Member States to help it deal with its sudden and significant cash flow crisis.

“I am really delighted that our Member States have approved this essential measure. It will provide much needed liquidity support. Many airlines contacted EUROCONTROL to confirm that they would not be in a position to facilitate their next payments. With traffic down 90%, our Member States have clearly recognised the shared challenge. This payment deferral will ease the immediate burden on airlines and it provides certainty on financial planning to both airlines and the air navigation service providers (ANSPs) on when payments will be made after the crisis has abated.

“It is important to acknowledge the overwhelming support provided by our Member States for this measure, along with their air navigation service providers, as it provides vital assistance to the airline industry in their hour of need.”

Eamonn Brennan, DIRECTOR GENERAL, EUROCONTROL

A4E asks urgently for a full-year waiver to ensure survival and aid in recovery

A4E welcomes today’s decision by EUROCONTROL’s Provisional Council* to accept the EUROCONTROL Agency’s proposal for a temporary deferment of airlines’ February-May en-route air traffic control (ATC) charges, with payments beginning in November 2020.  Unfortunately, such a plan only moves airlines’ current liquidity crisis to a future date. Realistically, a full-year waiver of 2020 charges would best support the industry’s immediate survival and aid in its recovery.

COVID-19 has forced the mass cancellation of flights due to health-related travel restrictions and/or border closures by EU Member States and countries around the world. As a result, air traffic among A4E carriers has plunged by 95% across Europe, with some carriers having suspended operations completely until further notice.[1]

We thank the Member States for their great support during this extraordinary crisis. Looking at the latest developments, however, it is clear that supporting short term liquidity will not be enough to ensure the survival of the aviation sector and preserve a functioning market for the passenger. Further support measures, including a full-year waiver of ATC charges, would provide airlines with the flexibility needed to get back on their feet once the health crisis has passed”, said Thomas Reynaert, Managing Director, Airlines for Europe (A4E).

During the recovery period, airlines should also be protected from any future increases to their ATC charges due to the reduction in 2020 traffic. In addition, mandatory projects supporting airspace efficiency improvements must also continue as planned and with the appropriate funding from the Member States.

Brussels, 07 April 2020

* The Provisional Council consists of the 41 member states of EUROCONTROL and observers from different organisations

[1] See the latest EUROCONTROL traffic figures for A4E carriers here.

 

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