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Resolution to the Commission of the European Union, DG TREN, October 30th, 2007

  1. The eleven regional public and public-equivalent bodies as partners of the EUROPLANE project,
    • 1.1   Having joined forces across seven EU countries to further intensify the networking of regional airports and regional transport authorities under the framework of the EU INTERREG III C Programme in order to ensure the sustainable operation of regional airports and improve of their surrounding regions’ economic and social growth as well as accessibility (see Annex 1 and Annex 2);
    • 1.2   Recognizing the considerable contribution of regional airport regions’ cooperation to further the cohesion across the European Union;
    • 1.3   Taking into account the strategic objectives of EU policies (including White Papers) for the improvement of regional accessibility, social and economic cohesion, spatial development, and regional competitiveness (see Annex 3);
    • 1.4   Pointing to the findings about structural policy challenges for the development of regional airports (see Annex 4) identified in the course of the EUROPLANE activity report "Airport Systems in Europe: The case of Berlin-Brandenburg";
  2. Having undertaken the EUROPLANE project that has yielded numerous valuable findings have concluded that:
    • 2.1   Regional airports constitute an important element in regional economic development as they stimulate economic development among others in rural and peripheral areas by providing vital air transport connectivity, especially for time-critical industries.
    • 2.2   Regional airports provide a crucial infrastructure element necessary to ensure regional accessibility and market access for people and goods flows to and from national and international economic centres.
    • 2.3   Regional airports fulfil economic and social functions in areas with oftentimes below average population densities and thus promote the continued emergence of a polycentric spatial development pattern across the European Union, an overarching goal of European spatial development and regional competitiveness policy.
    • 2.4   Despite the general recognition of the manifold benefits of well-functioning regional airports by the European Union, regional airports still face numerous challenges to their sustainable development on the European and on the national levels.
  3. and therefore call upon the Commission of the European Union to establish policies for the implementation of the following measures:
    • 3.1   Encouragement of national and regional governments and authorities to support the sustainable development of the system of regional airports as a vital element of an effective multimodal transportation infrastructure.
      Specifically, public bodies should be discouraged from focussing their support solely on primary network airports. Furthermore, it is unacceptable if state bodies abuse their approval authority to protect their own airports from competition. Substantial public investments into primary airport infrastructure should only be made after thorough consideration of the effects on the whole airport system (i.e. Milan, London), including regional airports. A stronger consideration of regional airports will contribute to a polycentric spatial structure, which is a key EU objective as documented in the European Spatial Development Perspective, chapter 3.2.
    • 3.2   Review of the existing slot allocation rules at coordinated EU national and international network airports to ensure that existing services to regional airports can be retained and developed, and the emergence of new routes is promoted.
      In this regard, we reject the currently considered so-called efficiency optimisation of slot use (see consultations on the application of council regulation (EEC) 793/2004 on common rules for the allocation of slots at Community airports) which will systematically encourage long-haul high seat density flights between main network airports and thus unduly limit the availability of slots for flights to and from regional airports. This will hamper regional development and conflict with the objectives for regional development and competitiveness of the Lisbon Agenda.
    • 3.3   Further liberalization of air transport by way of negotiation of air service agreements (ASAs) between the EU and third countries with the goal of facilitating access to all airports in any given third country for all Community air carriers, and likewise allowing any given third country air carrier access to all Community airports.
      This is of particular interest to regional airports, which can then establish direct services to a point in a third country rather than an indirect service via an airport hub, especially if the hub is congested and/or if slots are not available in adequate numbers (also see Annex 1). The development of services at regional airports must not be restricted in order to protect the market position of the major carriers through their hub airports.

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Last update: 08 October 2007

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