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ACI Europe: Letta report fails to address ‘mother of all challenges’



Airports association ACI Europe has criticised the recently published Letta report on the future of the EU single market, stating the paper leaves the aviation industry’s key challenges “largely unaddressed”. 

The 147-page ‘More than a Market’ report, presented last month by former Italian premier Enrico Letta, aims to provide strategic direction for the future of the EU and while both air and rail travel were addressed in the report, ACI Europe director general Olivier Jankovec said discussion around aviation’s biggest issues ­– largely decarbonisation efforts ­– were noticeably lacking.

“There is nothing [in the report] on the key issue of producing and delivering affordable sustainable aviation fuels across our airport network. Nothing on how to support the development and deployment of zero-emission aircraft technology…  Nothing on the need to ensure that aviation and airports in particular are factored in energy transition policies… And nothing either on how to finance aviation’s green transition,” Jankovec shared in a statement posted on LinkedIn.

“The silence of the Letta report on all these issues is difficult to understand as addressing them will be essential to maintain the socio-economic benefits of aviation and in particular cohesion,” he continued. “Unfortunately, when it comes to transport and aviation in particular, the Letta report reads like a missed opportunity.”

While Jankovec describes decarbonisation as “the mother of all our challenges” he also deplored the report’s additional failure to address capacity constraints and competitive airport slot management. He also stated the report “reflects a worrying pro-rail bias”.

“The sheer scale of connecting all EU capitals with high-speed rail raises legitimate questions as regards [to] its real potential to substitute air services. It also raises questions of costs and environmental effectiveness as well as political legitimacy,” he said.

Instead, he urged the next political cycle to “recognise, respect and promote the intrinsic relevance, value and complementarity of both air transport and rail transport”.

Jankovec’s statements come as ACI Europe published its Q1 2024 air traffic report, which shows a 10.2 per cent increase in European passenger traffic compared to the same quarter last year, and just a fraction (-1.3 per cent) below pre-pandemic levels.

In March, passenger traffic also increased 10.2 per cent year on year, driven predominantly by international (+11.7 per cent) rather than domestic travel (+5.6 per cent).

London Heathrow maintained its top spot as Europe’s busiest airport in March, followed by Istanbul and Paris CDG. Madrid and Amsterdam Schiphol rounded out the top five.

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