ECONOMY

New body to invest unused aviation funds

new-body-to-invest-unused-aviation-funds

There are funds of 100 million euros that Eurocontrol, the European organization for aviation safety, granted to Greece’s Civil Aviation Agency (YPA) from 2015 and 2019 which have not been unused.

The amount for last year alone came to €20 million, while airport charges in the same period amounted to €28.7 million, according to figures presented this week during the online conference of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) by its Regional Safety and Flight Operation for Europe Director Giancarlo Buono.

Those figures reveal that investment resource mismanagement was rampant long before the local air industry faced major turbulence due to the coronavirus.

Estimates now say that the next three to six months will be particularly difficult for carriers and airport management companies – i.e. the protagonists in a sector that contributes 10.2% of Greece’s gross domestic product and supports 457,000 jobs.

The airlines are expected to continue utilizing the government support measures, while airport managers, mainly Athens International Airport, require compensation for the losses suffered due to the traffic restrictions: From March to October it saw passenger traffic drop 77% year-on-year.

As for Fraport Greece, which manages the country’s 14 biggest airports outside Attica, a meeting of its executives two months ago with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has generated expectations for a mutually beneficial solution regarding the losses the company has suffered due to the pandemic.

Even so, market insiders argue that this second lockdown is not expected to worsen the airport management companies’ performance dramatically, as it is taking place in the low season, while passenger traffic has already shrunk.

In any case, the sector has turned its attention to the post-Covid era. The implementation of investments for the modernization of air systems at domestic airports is absolutely necessary to prevent a return to delays when air traffic is fully restored.

In that direction, the new Civil Aviation Authority (APA) will have a key role: It will spin off from the Civil Aviation Agency and manage the Eurocontrol resources, constituting an independent entity with separate operation and administrative and financial autonomy.