Who will save German aviation?

At the air traffic summit, everything revolved around the challenges posed by the pandemic and possible help for the German aviation industry. “We do not make rescue packages for an airport manager, but for 180,000 employees,” says Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer.

Currently taking off less often: A Boeing 737-800 aircraft operated by Ryanair.

EPreservation of landing rights in spite of broken use, further help for the airports, avoidance of additional burdens for air traffic control – these are the most important results of the so-called air traffic summit. The corona pandemic hit the industry hard. Lufthansa, which was partially nationalized during the crisis, posted another billion loss in the past quarter, and the airports with their employees and service providers also suffer massively from the consequences. Accordingly, at the 2020 Aviation Summit, everything revolved around the challenges posed by the pandemic and possible help for the German aviation industry.

“We do not make rescue packages for an airport manager, but for 180,000 employees who work at airports in Germany, and around 25 to 30 percent of these employees are in danger,” said Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer (CSU) on the Friday before the meeting on Deutschlandfunk. From aircraft manufacturers to air traffic control, airlines and airports, he says it is an industry with around 800,000 employees. “We have had added value at the airports alone of 27 billion euros in the last few years.” Last year, 227 million passengers were carried.

The aim of the final declaration is to set the course in such a way that “the industry emerges from the corona crisis without structural damage and jobs in the industry are permanently secured”. The maintenance costs of the airports would have amounted to 740 million euros from March to June alone and thus represented a considerable burden. In order for this operational readiness to be maintained, joint efforts of the shareholders are required to secure the economic basis of the airports in the medium term. On the basis of the temporary framework of the European Commission under state aid law (“Temporary Framework”), the public sector (i.e. the federal government, states or municipalities) can use the “Federal framework regulation aid for airfields” since mid-August 2020 to recover the revenue lost due to the corona pandemic Compensate airfields in accordance with state aid law.

The application deadline is extended

The Ministry of Transport aims to expand and extend this regulation. Specifically, the application deadline for grants to compensate for pandemic-related damage is to be extended to the end of March 2021. “Furthermore, financial aid should also be possible for fixed costs,” says the joint statement. “This enables the public sector to offer additional financial support for the airports within its sphere of influence over and above the aid already granted or intended.” Additional efforts are seen as necessary to secure the economic basis of the airports in the medium term. “The federal government and the federal states are aware of their joint responsibility for the airports and will look for financial solutions for the airports in talks over the next two weeks.”

After the European legislator has ensured since the beginning of the corona pandemic that only at least 80 percent of the respective flights actually have to be carried out in order to maintain historical take-off and landing rights, the summit participants are in favor of an extension of this regulation until summer 2021. Simultaneously supported the Ministry of Transport the efforts of the European Commission to change the EU slot regulation “in order to create a legally secure regulatory framework for a long-term lower traffic volume”.

The final declaration also mentions that in the wake of the decline in traffic, the revenue of air traffic control has also fallen sharply. “On the basis of the old legal situation, this drop in income would have had to be offset by increased air traffic control fees, with the exception of an own contribution of 4.4 percent in the following year,” it says. A time extension of these compensation payments is already planned. The air navigation service providers would also have to make efforts to limit their costs. In order to maintain the functionality and investment power of air traffic control, the federal government, as the owner, will also examine options for bridging or covering funding gaps at DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH.

The “Stay on the Ground” initiative, which was most recently made known through a blockade of the opening of BER, demanded not to put more tax money into the most climate-damaging means of transport. “Regional airports were already in the red before Corona and were artificially kept alive with taxpayers’ money,” said her spokeswoman Lena Tucnak. It makes sense from an economic as well as a social and ecological point of view to close regional airports now.