According to the Airports Council International (ACI), the leading trade association for global airport companies, European airports made a net profit of 6.4 billion euros last year, despite facing losses of over 20 billion euros due to the pandemic. ACI revealed that this impressive result was achieved despite passenger numbers remaining 21% lower than those recorded in 2019. Profitability and declining investment have allowed airports to return to profitability.
Industry experts caution that the aviation sector's debt has increased by €47 billion since before the pandemic. Despite the increased cost of air travel for passengers, airlines still pay airport usage fees below the actual cost of providing those services.
European airports want to raise fees
While air fares charged by airlines have increased by 32% compared to pre-pandemic prices, airport charges have increased by only 7%, i.e., they have decreased in real terms. Experts point out that the situation remains. Therefore, unsustainable. What is at stake here is airports' ability to invest in decarbonization, resilience, digitalization, and capacity where needed. Looking ahead to 2023 and the next two years, European airports have already reduced their planned investments from €34.6 billion to €18.4 billion. The investment crisis is not for the future; it is already a reality.
Industry representatives believe the "user pays" principle is the most logical and approach. They believe that regulators and governments should acknowledge the need for increased airport charges due to cost pressures and investment needs.