Following the Covid-19 pandemic, many airlines are currently applying for, or receiving, state aid. EPF stresses that decisions taken today must be considered in a broader, long-term perspective and assessed against the three pillars of sustainability – economic, social and environment.
In EPF’s view, state aid to airlines must meet a number of conditions:
- it should be temporary and take the form of a loan that must be repaid
- it should be guided by the principles of market efficiency and connectivity, i.e. it should only be used to support air services that are needed to ensure connectivity & cannot be fulfilled by another, more environmentally friendly, mode of transport
- it should come with strict social obligations towards both staff and passengers.
For this reason, EPF addressed a letter to the European Commission, explaining our concerns related to the use of state aids to Lufthansa and other major EU airlines:
- Approval of state aid should be conditional on mitigating the impacts of air travel, for example, by encouraging a shift to more climate-neutral modes
- Approval of state aid should be conditional on respecting air passenger rights, notably the right to cash reimbursement in case of cancellation
- Without remedial measures, state aid to support legacy carriers risks to accentuate market distortions: not only in relation to new entrants and smaller regional carriers, but also in relation to Europe’s transport sector (including coach and especially rail) more widely.