New aviation report reveals recovery proposals; EU arrivals duty free backed

By Andrew Pentol |

The EU aviation sector supports almost 10 million jobs and €672 billion in European Union economic activity.

More than 20 associations representing the entire European aviation ecosystem have launched joint proposals for the recovery and relaunch of the European aviation sector.

Proposals from associations representing air navigation service providers; aeronautical manufacturing; trade unions; non-governmental organisations for environmental and consumer action; service providers; ground-handling services; the duty free and travel retail sector (which is represented by the European Travel Retail Confederation/ETRC) airport coordinators; general and business aviation; express carriers; travel agents; tour operators; travel distributors; and the entire tourism sector have been collated in the Round Table Report on the Recovery of European Aviation. This was released yesterday (16 November 2020).

The report provides an important reminder that the EU aviation sector supports almost 10 million jobs and €672 billion/$797 billion in European Union economic activity. This includes 4.2% of all EU jobs and 4.2% of the EU’s GDP.

It also calls for member states to ensure any further relief funding is provided on a ‘fair and non-discriminatory basis and is available to all parts of the aviation sector with justified needs.’


Among the proposals outlined in the report is a comprehensive Aviation Relief Programme to rebuild the sector. The ‘critical importance’ of restoring the public’s confidence in aviation is a key priority and urgent prerequisite in ensuring recovery, according to the authors of the Aviation Round Table Report, who commented: “The Aviation Round Table calls on the EU and its member states to put in place a targeted European Aviation Relief Programme covering the period until the recovery of air traffic, which is not expected before 2024 or 2025.

“This programme should aim to stabilise the sector and help prevent the huge loss of employment and connectivity that would result from a collapse of European aviation.

“The EU aviation sector stands ready, with the EU and member States, to continue to take action to mitigate against the revenue gap of affected actors and allow for a fast and sustainable recovery path. This will enable the sector to contribute to an economically viable and sustainable recovery.”

Proposals from more than 20 associations on how to spearhead the recovery of the European aviation sector were outlined in an Aviation Round Table Report which was released yesterday (16 November 2020)

Connectivity, skills and employment and preserving the European internal market and its competitiveness are also deemed vital to ensuring the European aviation sector’s recovery from the coronavirus (Covid-19). These elements will improve governance and make European aviation more resilient to future shocks, according to the report.

In addition, the European Union is being urged by authors of the report “to allow duty free on arrival at EU airports to increase airports’ international competitiveness.”

The ETRC first revealed it was lobbying for the opening of arrivals duty free shops at European airports during a virtual briefing on 3 July.

As reported, the ETRC and Airports Council International Europe have since renewed calls for the EU to change legislation and authorise the shop sales in a bid to deliver essential support for beleaguered airports and their commercial revenue partners.

The Aviation Round Table Report on the Recovery of European Aviation urges the European Union to allow duty free on arrival at EU airports.

Meanwhile, the associations are to work jointly with policy makers to achieve net zero Carbon Dioxide emissions by 2050. The commitment will help the European aviation sector recover “sustainably and more resiliently” from the pandemic and supports the EU’s Green Deal objectives. It will also help build a “greener, socially and economically robust future for aviation.”


In the meantime, EU leaders are being urged to join and ‘actively support’ an EU Pact for Sustainable Aviation by the end of 2021. Leaders have been asked to contribute the policy and financial framework required to enable the European aviation sector to deliver on its sustainability commitments.

The authors of the report stated: “The European aviation sector believes its recovery is fully compatible with and should be accompanied by broader efforts to reduce its environmental footprint, providing the right policies are in place.

“Therefore, the sector is committed to continuing its efforts to reduce its negative environmental impacts, locally and globally. The latter implies that all stakeholders and policy makers should work together to achieve net zero Carbon Dioxide emissions from all flights within and departing the EU by 2050.

“The European aviation sector invites European and national policymakers to be strong partners in reaching these objectives, thus collectively contributing to the implementation of the European Green Deal.”

The report was endorsed by more than 20 associations representing the entire European aviation ecosystem.

According to the report, the design and implementation of the recovery strategy should take the needs of all aviation workers into account.

These should be fully reflected in the social dimension of the EU Pact for Sustainable Aviation.

In order to further reduce the aviation sector’s environmental footprint and achieve decarbonisation, the Pact calls for; an EU legislative framework to promote the uptake, production and deployment of Sustainable Aviation fuels; funding and investments to enable the acceleration of low-carbon aircraft innovations, such as electric and hydrogen; an incentive scheme for fleet renewal, coupled with retirement; increased public co-funding rates for Civil Aviation Research & Innovation (Clean Aviation and Single European Sky ATM Research) through EU recovery mechanisms; and the revision of the Single European Sky and continuation of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme/ Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation.


European Commission Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager said: “The aviation sector has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak. Since March, we have worked closely with member states in their efforts to support this industry, which plays an important role in terms of jobs and connectivity.

“The industry report provides important food for thought, both for immediate issues and forward-looking challenges. This is because environmental sustainability and the role of digitisation is a prerequisite for the modernisation and decarbonisation of the EU aviation system.

“In this unprecedented situation, we will continue our close cooperation with member states and the aviation sector, to find workable solutions to mitigate against the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak, in line with EU rules.”

TRBusiness is to host the duty free and travel retail industry’s first virtual event dedicated solely to sustainability from 19 April to 23 April 2021.

European Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean added: “I welcome the report from the aviation sector and civil society on what is needed to rebuild passengers’ trust and for the recovery of this hard-hit sector, which remains critical for global supply chains and people’s mobility.

“It offers a vision of how to make the sector stronger, more sustainable and more forward-looking than it was before the Covid-19 pandemic. I applaud the commitment to reach net-zero Carbon Dioxide emissions by 2050 and the proposal to create a pact for social sustainability. This is fully in line with our ambitions for the future growth of the EU.”

The authors of the report concluded: “Europe’s aviation bodies have come together and committed to ambitious actions to tackle the sector’s climate impact and to strive for a socially sustainable, competitive and more resilient aviation sector.

“To achieve this, urgent action by EU leaders is required to deliver policies that will enable that action. The sector cannot merely wait for a resumption of business as usual. Supportive policies are required so that aviation can continue to be a primary enabler of the global economy in the future.”

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