Opinion Factsheet 

The future of regional airports – challenges and opportunities

Opinion Number: CDR 471/2021
Rapporteur: ORTYL Władysław
Commission: COTER
Status: Adopted
Date: 01/07/2021
This own initiative opinion follows the following objectives:
draw the attention to the key challenges faced by regional airports as a result of the COVID-19 crisis but alsoin the long term;
highlight the investment needs of regional airports, with particular consideration of safety and security issues as well as economic needs and environmental standards;
highlight the potential of regional airports for the implementation of the Green Deal, in particular by creating multimodal hubs, interconnections and interoperability with sustainable transport system in Europe, especially rail;
thoroughly assess the extent of possible support for regional airports under the national Recovery and Resilience Plans;
come forward with proposals on the extent to which state aid provisions applicable to regional airports could be reviewed as part of the revision of state aid rules announced in the Commission's Work Programme 2021.

Through its preparation (bilateral meetings with representatives of the EU institutions (European Commission, European Parliament, Portuguese Presidency) and aviation stakeholders,written stakeholder consultation, media coverage, etc), the opinion already drew the attention on the key challenges faced by regional airports, in the short and long term, and strategies to be explored.


- points out the particularly worrying situation of regional airports (i.e. airports that are not airports hubs and whose main catchment area is not the capital); faced with sharp drops in revenues (- 8.8% in 2020) and in air traffic (up to 95%), 193 airports were facing insolvency in October 2020; calls on the European Commission to classify airports;

- reminds the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy, aiming at a 90% reduction in transport CO2 emissions by 2050; provides recommendations to airports to mitigate their emission (e.g. incentivise new fuel, modulate airline's charges) and stresses the role of local and regional authorities, which often own or manage regional airports;

- stresses the need to deepen integration between transport modes, particularly air and rail (e.g. by introducing combined air-rail tickets); in the long term, it should be considered whether stopping short-distance flights is appropriate;

- recognises that regions' development depends to a large extent on the quality of their connectivity; regional airports play a prominent role in EU territorial cohesion, even more so in the case of archipelagos, sparsely populated, peripheral, outermost or less developed regions, when they lack other convenient and environmentally friendly means of transport; they also form an especially crucial element of critical infrastructure, vital for the security of a country and its citizens;

- calls on the European Commission to develop more flexible and effective public aid rules to provide regional airports with financial assistance in line with the relevant ERDF and RRF provisions in peripheral, island or outermost or less developed regions where a more efficient and sustainable alternative does not exist; small regional airports, not in competition with other airports and with an annual traffic of up to 1 million passengers should be exempted from state aid notification;

- urges the allocation of EU funds to the development of safety, security, innovation and digitalisation of airports as well as of research and development in particular towards noise and emissions reduction; public investments in regional airports should comply with the objectives of the European Green Deal and the principle "no harm for the environment.



Rapporteur's participation at a co organized CoR/ARC Webinar on Urban Air Mobility

Webinar co-organised by the CoR, Airport Regions Council(ARC) and POLIS on "Urban Air Mobility: Preparing for (very) near future" (2 March, 15:16.30)

Urban Air Mobility (drones) is expected to become a reality in Europe within 3-5 years. New technologies applied to vertical take-off and landing systems, make this possible. Drones will be commonplace in urban areas. Europe is already one of the leaders in Urban Air Mobility. Challenges for regions and cities include safety, security, noise and environmental impact but UAM also brings opportunities (eg emergency transport of persons, cleaner and faster transport in cities,…). The objective of the seminar was to discuss how regions and cities can have their voices heard and taken into account. With many benefits, UAM brings many open questions that can only be addressed in close cooperation with cities.

02 Mar

Rapporteur's participation at the webinar on "Regions and airports: a shared recovery" (ARC)

Mr ortyl participated to an online webinar on "Regions and Airports: a Shared Recovery" organised by ARC (Airport Regional Council) together with ERAC (European Regional Aerodromes Community) and ERA (European Regions Airline Association) to discuss why regions need airports and their impact on regions' economies and recovery after Covid. Other speakers included the European Commission (DG MOVE), the mayor of Vantaa (FI) and a regional airport (BG).

10 Nov

EWRC workshop: "Together for aviation recovery - Green Deal innovation in EU regions, cities and airports"

Aviation is at the crossroads of the EU's triple transition – green, digital and resilient recovery. Greener aviation should restore fundamental freedom of movement for citizens and goods in all EU regions. Aviation contributed 3.6% of all Greenhouse Gases emitted in the EU-28 and is the hardest sector to decarbonise. COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the European Aviation ecosystem, which accounts for 10 million jobs and EUR 672 billion in the EU.

Research and innovation will be the cornerstone of greener aviation. Aligning EU, national, regional and local investments and facilities for research and innovation will be key to recovery and to responding to tough global competition. More and more regions are eager to invest in high-tech domains such as aeronautics, and more and more cities are considering sustainable urban air mobility in the near future.

The European Green Deal investments, the National Recovery and Resilience Plans and smart regional specialisation with EU regional funds are opportunities to push innovation in aviation, including at airports and their surrounding cities and regions. The first European Green Deal call for proposals for research and innovation is enabling new large projects at EU airports.

Organised by : ARC, European Commission (DG RTD), City of Vantaa (FI), city of Unetice

12 Oct
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