The European Regions Airlines Association (ERA) and seven stakeholder organizations are calling on European governments to provide immediate relief measures including direct or public cash injections, they said in a statement on April 3. The association of 58 regional airlines warns the industry is facing an unprecedented liquidity crisis.
The statement is signed by other organizations like Airlines 4 Europe (A4E), Airports Council International (ACI), the European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Association (ECTAA), and four more.
In the policy letter to EU governments and the European Union, ERA and others highlight seven issues that need urgent resolving. Most important is a 90 percent state-backed credit facility to provide liquidity to airlines whose operations have been paralyzed by the Covid-19 crisis.
“In turn, supporting airlines with employee costs during a protracted period when thousands of industry workers are being forced to take unpaid leave or work on reduced pay.” This is the case in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and the Netherlands.
ERA suggests governments provide direct financial help to domestic airlines in one sum or in the form of a monthly payment to maintain critical routes as in Italy and Norway. Financial aid should not contravene state aid regulations, as they have been relaxed by the EU.
The organizations also want a 12-month waiver from February or March for airlines to pay air navigation charges, a temporary extension of payment terms of airport charges, and suspension of airport and parking charges until June 30.
ERA and A4E have complained on numerous occasions about the strict implementation of EU261, the rule that forces airlines to compensate passengers when flights are delayed or canceled. ERA suggests that all EU-countries follow the example of the Dutch government, which has waived the rule and allows airlines to offer passengers a voucher valid until a year from the original travel date. This saves airlines millions in much-needed cash.
The airlines also want countries to suspend all aeronautical taxes and air passenger duties. Norway will not charge ADPs until October 13. Airlines would also be helped if they are offered operational flexibility.
“The current crisis exceeds all foreseeable and manageable expectations. The European Institutions must take all the necessary measures to ensure the short-term financial viability of the travel industry enterprises with the objectives of maintaining a functioning travel industry, protecting employees and consumers alike, and help them to efficiently restore air connectivity and support the re-growth of European economies”, ERA and stakeholder organizations say.