Airport crisis: federal government wants to help smaller airports

Airport crisis: federal government wants to help smaller airports

The federal government wants to support smaller airports financially, also against the backdrop of the corona crisis.

The federal cabinet introduced corresponding changes in the law, as the deutsche presse-agentur learned from government circles. This will implement an understanding within the government on aid for airports, which are heavily burdened by the consequences of the pandemic.

Specifically, the federal government wants to cover the costs of airports for so-called air navigation services. Until now, the smaller airports have borne these costs themselves and have not always been able to pass them on to the airlines.

According to the cabinet bill, 20 million euros have been earmarked in the 2021 federal budget to cover these costs. 50 million euros have been budgeted for each of the years 2022 to 2025.

The airport association ADV spoke of an important step towards significantly reducing the costs of the smaller locations. "At the same time, the cabinet’s decision recognizes the important role that these airports play in providing the necessary transport links to the regions and strengthening the economy," says ralph beisel, managing director of the german airports association (ADV).

The aid is part of a broader package. In mid-february, the federal government also agreed on grants for twelve major airports in which the federal government is not involved. This concerns the reimbursement of costs for keeping airports open at the beginning of the corona pandemic. The federal government plans to make grants totaling 200 million euros. The federal government’s support is conditional on the respective countries making a matching contribution.

The background to the payments to the twelve airports without federal involvement is an old list in which the federal government recognizes a "transport policy interest" in the airports. This means that some airports will have to manage without direct federal funding. The ball is now in the owners’ court. Many airports are co-owned primarily by the federal states and municipalities.

Some countries want more aid from the federal government. According to the minutes of the conference of heads of state in mid-march, bavaria, mecklenburg-western pomerania, saarland, schleswig-holstein and thuringia are calling on the federal government to provide direct support for regionally important airports. There should not be a significant further distortion of competition in the airport market as a result of the corona pandemic, it hailed.

On wednesday, the german airports association (ADV) reiterated the extremely tense situation. The airports have been plunged into a "severe, unprecedented crisis" by the corona pandemic. Despite the current increase in bookings due to easter travel, the shaken air transport industry is struggling to survive, the association said: "further tightened entry restrictions, a confusing and constantly changing patchwork of country-specific corona regulations and blanket quarantine rules are putting the brakes on any recovery in air traffic."

In the period from march 2020 to february 2021, the number of passengers fell by 85.5 percent. The expected loss of all airports in 2020 is 1.8 billion euros, after a pre-tax profit of almost 800 million euros the year before. According to ADV, a loss of 1.2 billion euros is expected in 2021. More than 40,000 of the 180,000 jobs at airport sites were at risk.