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States’ Decision to Defer ATC Charges Provides Airlines Short-term Liquidity Relief Amid COVID-19 Crisis.

Full-year waiver urgently needed to ensure survival and aid in recovery.

By  Brussels, — Last updated on 8 December 2023

A4E welcomes today’s decision by EUROCONTROL’s Provisional Council * The Provisional Council consists of the 41 member states of EUROCONTROL and observers from different organisations 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.See latest EUROCONTROL traffic figures for A4E carriers here.

“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, of 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 Member States.