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Aviation Strategy for Europe

Commission approves €4.4 million Bulgarian support measure to Burgas and Varna airports in the context of the #Coronavirus outbreak

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The European Commission has approved a €4.4 million Bulgarian support measure to Burgas and Varna airports in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. The measure was approved under the state aid Temporary Framework. The public support will take the form of a deferral of the payments of the concession fees due by Fraport Twin Star Airport Management AD, the company managing the two airports, to the Bulgarian government which owns the airports' infrastructures.

The purpose of the measure is to help the two airports addressing the liquidity shortages that they are facing due to the coronavirus outbreak, by reducing the costs borne by the airport operator. The Commission found the measure to be in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework.

In particular, the payment deferral may only be granted until the end of this year and its duration will be for one year. Furthermore, the payment deferral involves minimum remuneration in line with the Temporary Framework.

The Commission therefore concluded that the measure is necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a member state, in line with Article 107(3)(b) TFEU and the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. On this basis, the Commission approved the measure under EU state aid rules. More information on the Temporary Framework and other actions taken by the Commission to address the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic can be found here.

The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.58095 in the state aid register on the Commission's competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.

Aviation Strategy for Europe

Single European Sky: For a more sustainable and resilient air traffic management

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The European Commission is proposing an upgrade of the Single European Sky regulatory framework which comes on the heels of the European Green Deal. The objective is to modernize the management of European airspace and to establish more sustainable and efficient flightpaths. This can reduce up to 10% of air transport emissions.

The proposal comes as the sharp drop in air traffic caused by the coronavirus pandemic calls for greater resilience of our air traffic management, by making it  easier to adapt traffic capacities to demand.

Transport Commissioner Adina Vălean declared: “Planes are sometimes zig-zagging between different blocks of airspace, increasing delays and fuel consumed. An efficient air traffic management system means more direct routes and less energy used, leading to less emissions and lower costs for our airlines. Today's proposal to revise the Single European Sky will not only help cut aviation emissions by up to 10% from a better management of flight paths, but also stimulate digital innovation by opening up the market for data services in the sector. With the new proposed rules we help our aviation sector advancing on the dual green  and digital transitions.”

Not adapting air traffic control capacities would result in additional costs, delays and CO2 emissions. In 2019, delays alone cost the EU €6 billion, and led to 11.6 million tonnes (Mt) of excess CO2. Meanwhile, obliging pilots to fly in congested airspace rather than taking a direct flight path entails unnecessary CO2 emissions, and the same is the case when airlines are taking longer routes to avoid charging zones with higher rates.

The European Green Deal, but also new technological developments such as wider use of drones, have put digitalization and decarbonization of transport at the very heart of EU aviation policy. However, curbing emissions remains a major challenge for aviation. The Single European Sky therefore paves the way for a European airspace that is used optimally and embraces modern technologies. It ensures collaborative network management that allows airspace users to fly environmentally-optimal routes. And it will allow digital services which do not necessarily require the presence of local infrastructure.

To secure safe and cost-effective air traffic management services, the Commission proposes actions such as:

  • Strengthening the European network and its management to avoid congestion and suboptimal flight routes;
  • promoting a European market for data services needed for a better air traffic management;
  • streamlining the economic regulation of air traffic services provided on behalf of member states to stimulate greater sustainability and resilience, and;
  • boosting better co-ordination for the definition, development and deployment of innovative solutions.

Next Steps

The current proposal will be submitted to the Council and the Parliament for deliberations, which  the Commission hopes will be concluded without delay.

Subsequently, after final adoption of the proposal, implementing and delegated acts will need to be prepared with experts to address more detailed and technical matters.

Background

The Single European Sky initiative was launched in 2004 to reduce fragmentation of the airspace over Europe, and to improve the performance of air traffic management in terms of safety, capacity, cost-efficiency and the environment.

A proposal for a revision of the Single European Sky (SES 2+) was put forward by the Commission in 2013, but negotiations have been stalled in Council since 2015. In 2019, a Wise Person's Group, composed of 15 experts in the field, was set up to assess the current situation and future needs for air traffic management in the EU, which resulted in several recommendations. The Commission then amended its 2013 text, introducing new measures, and drafted a separate proposal to amend the EASA Basic Regulation. The new proposals are accompanied by a Staff Working Document, presented here.

More information

Questions and Answers: Single European Sky: for an efficient and sustainable air traffic management

 

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Aviation Strategy for Europe

Commission approves €25 million Belgian aid to support the ground handling service provider Aviapartner in context of #Coronavirus outbreak

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The European Commission has approved a €25 million Belgian individual aid measure to support Aviapartner, a ground handling service provider at Brussels National Airport (Zaventem). The measure was approved under the state aid Temporary Framework. The measure provides aid in the form of a convertible loan. The aim of the recapitalization measure is to ensure that Aviapartner has sufficient liquidity to continue its operations. Aviapartner is an essential operator at Brussels National Airport (Belgium's main airport).

A failure of Aviapartner would cause major disturbance to the Belgian economy and connectivity. The Commission found that the measure notified by Belgium is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, (i) the measure will not exceed the minimum needed to ensure the viability of Aviapartner and will not go beyond restoring  its capital position to before the coronavirus outbreak, (ii) the scheme provides an adequate remuneration for the state; (iii) the conditions of the measures incentivise beneficiaries and/or their owners to repay the support as early as possible; (v) safeguards are in place to make sure that beneficiaries do not unduly benefit from the recapitalization aid by the state to the detriment of fair competition in the Single Market, such as an acquisition ban to avoid aggressive commercial expansion.

The Commission concluded that the measure is necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a member state, in line with Article 107(3)(b) TFEU and the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. On this basis, the Commission approved the measure under EU state aid rules. More information on the Temporary Framework and other actions taken by the Commission to address the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic can be found here.

The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.57637 in the state aid register on the Commission's competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.

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Aviation Strategy for Europe

Commission signs #AviationAgreement with #Japan

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On 22 June, the European Commission and Japan signed an agreement on civil aviation safety, which will further boost the EU's already strong co-operation with Japan and reinforce the competitiveness of the EU's aviation industry.

This bilateral civil aviation safety agreement (BASA) will support EU manufacturers of aeronautical products to increase their trade and market share in the Japanese market. The BASA will remove unnecessary duplications of evaluation and testing activities for aeronautical products, decrease costs for authorities and the aviation industry and promote cooperation between the civil aviation authorities of the EU and Japan. Common rules will facilitate the co-operation of European and Japanese companies and decrease the administrative burden for authorities, creating better opportunities for investment and strengthening economic prosperity and growth.

Transport Commissioner Adina Vălean said: “This agreement will facilitate our aviation industry's access to the Japanese aeronautical products market, helping this hard-hit sector recover from the crisis. We are also stepping up cooperation between the EU and Japanese aviation authorities, towards an even higher level of civil aviation safety and environmental compatibility.”

The full press release and the agreement are available online. 

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