The contribution flying makes to climate change is finally starting to slow down plans to expand a number of airports across Europe. Two recent decisions in particular – one in Vienna, the other in London – suggest that commitments to reducing climate changing gases are causing rethinks over the growth of airports.
Today’s ruling by the WTO against Washington State on subsidies to Boeing, and an earlier similar ruling on Airbus, officially adds another €5.4 billion ($5.7 billion) to the already very long list of subsidies granted to the aviation sector, sustainable transport group Transport & Environment has said.
A Portuguese regional airport that was expanded with large amounts of EU funding has announced plans to turn itself into an aircraft parking facility because demand for the airport has fallen badly short of predictions. The case highlights T&E’s call for greater scrutiny of public money being used to prop up carbon-intensive, underutilised infrastructure with questionable social and economic benefits.
EU approval of Ireland’s €42.5 million in state aid to small regional airports has been criticised for allowing public money to prop up underutilised infrastructure with questionable social and economic benefits. Four airports will receive the grants over the next four years – while the Irish government faces calls to address ‘chronic’ underinvestment in low-carbon public transport.
NGO Transport & Environment (T&E) has criticised the decision by the Irish Government, with Brussels’ backing, to grant €42.5 million to a number of small regional airports, a decision which will see public money propping up underutilised airports with questionable socioeconomic benefits. These public resources could have been better invested in developing a sustainable transport network in Ireland, T&E argues.
Further decarbonisation of transport through a shift to alternative fuels and electro-mobility forms a major part of the European Commission’s strategy for an ‘energy union’, unveiled last week. With transport being responsible for more than 30% of EU energy consumption and a quarter of emissions, the Commission said legislation on ‘decarbonising the transport sector, including an action plan on alternative fuels’ would be put forward in 2017.
In mid April 2014, the European Commission opened a consultation on disputed aid to 23 regional airports in relation to the newly revised state aid guidelines for airports and airlines which came into effect at the beginning of the month. T&E believes that decisions that will be taken on state aid under the new guidelines risk further distorting competition in an already heavily subsidised sector, wasting scarce public resources and expanding billions of euros in climate harmful subsidies that will generate more CO2 than the original emissions trading system intended to save. Transport & Environment believes that state aid can only be justified for select small airports in remote areas for which other transport is not a viable option. You can download our consultation response below.