Regulatory framework on airport subventions


Tomorrow, the European Commission is approving a new regulatory framework on public subventions to airports and airlines. Some countries might be affected, considering that most of their regional airports would have to close. This would be a plus point for the Spanish net usefulness, where the non profitable airports are protected without the need of direct airport subventions from the State.

The new rules may change the map of the European aviation industry where the influence of the low cost airlines is significant. Also, the clarification of these rules would facilitate the interest from investors in the Aena’s eventual privatisation. Moreover, it should help to define the operating conditions for all the non Aena airports which remain closed and waiting for investments like CastellónMurcia-Corvera or Ciudad Real.

Until now, the regulation in force from 2005 establishes that the airports which serve less than a million passengers per year are not affected by the competition laws and thus can receive subventions. The new proposal, presented on July, 3 2013 fixed the limit in 200,000 passengers a year. In France, this would mean that their regions would not be able to give funds to 42 out of 73 airports.

After a consultation process, the regulation to be approved tomorrow will determine that limit in 500,000 passengers per year. This is more than originally expected but, in exchange, they will require the subventions cannot be higher than 80% of the airport’s shortfall.

The rule will keep exceptions for airports with specific conditions like the Canary Islands or certain regions in Sweden, where it is not possible to arrive otherwise.