193 European airports at risk of closure due to crisis, says industry lobby

Nearly 200 airports are facing insolvency in the coming months as the coronavirus crisis continues to batter the industry, according to figures released Tuesday by airport lobby group ACI Europe.

The organization says Europe risks the “collapse of a significant part of its air transport system” unless governments provide more support to the sector. There are 740 airports on the Continent.

ACI Europe doesn’t name the 193 “at risk,” but says they are largely regional airports that help support an estimated 277,000 jobs and billions of euros of business.

“Eight months into the crisis, all of Europe’s airports are burning through cash to remain open, with revenues far from covering the costs of operations, let alone capital costs,” said ACI Europe Director General Olivier Jankovec.

The news comes as ACI Europe reports a further downward trend in air passenger traffic. Data published Tuesday shows a year-on-year decrease of 73 percent in passenger traffic at Europe’s airports in September.

Jankovec pointed the finger at governments’ decisions to continue to impose coronavirus quarantines on travelers in a bid to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The airline lobby, like many others in the sector, blames quarantines for the sharp decrease in passenger numbers and has called for a EU-wide testing protocol to help save business.

ACI Europe warns that larger airport hubs are also under pressure; the top 20 European airports have taken on an additional €16 billion in debt, equivalent to nearly 60 percent of their revenue in a normal year, it said.

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