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Olivier Jankovec from ACI: Passenger volume growth will not remove the cost pressures of airports

Published
12.4.2016 at 08:29
Air traffic growth in Europe has exceeded expectations in the beginning of the year, says ACI Europe’s Director General Olivier Jankovec in Helsinki at a conference hosted by Finavia, focusing on commercial services at airports.

According to ACI Europe, the passenger volumes at European airports increased a fair 10 per cent in February 2016.

- The extra day in February played a big part in February’s stellar traffic figures, but it is not the full story. On the back of a very good 2015, Europe’s airports continue to perform very well in terms of passenger traffic. Improving macroeconomic conditions, in particular low commodity prices and consumers eager to spend on travel and leisure, are fundamental to that, says Jankovec.

Despite air traffic growth in Europe the economic situation of the continents’ airport companies has, however, developed significantly slower than in other continents. This is due to the fact that European airport companies have not increased their costs for airlines in the same relation as their expenses due to regulation, for example, have increased.

- Last year European airports focused strongly on cutting costs. Since 2008 airport companies have, for example, decreased their personnel expenses with nearly 20 per cent. This means they have become more effective while improving their service level, Jankovec says in Helsinki.

Half of European airports are unprofitable

According to Airport Council International (ACI), the annual expenses incurred by European airports are around EUR 4 billion higher than the service fees paid by airlines.

For this reason, airports increasingly depend on income from commercial services for passengers. Income from airport shops and restaurants is used to finance the air traffic infrastructure.

- We want Helsinki Airport to remain an attractive and competitive option for airlines. We have to further enhance its role as an interesting and lucrative place of business, so that we attract the best commercial players, says Elena Stenholm, VP, Commercial Services at Helsinki Airport, Finavia.

The ACI Europe Airport Commercial & Retail Conference, hosted by Finavia, has brought managers and decision-makers representing European airports, airport operators, retailers and brands in Helsinki. Its key themes include commercial services at airports and the increasing importance of the income from such services.

- The conference will discuss best practices in the field, and we will be able to make use of them in our operations as well. We will also have an opportunity to attract the best commercial players to Helsinki Airport and support the brand of Finland by marketing our country as a multifaceted destination, says Stenholm.

Finavia is a wanted event host

Finavia has gained a strong position as an organiser of major international aviation events.

In October 2015, Finavia hosted the CAPA World Aviation World Summit for commercial aviation managers. In February 2015, the Winter Operations and Airside Safety Europe (WOASE) conference attracted almost 150 participants from more than ten countries to Helsinki Airport.

Towards the year 2020

The service renewal at Helsinki Airport is based on a need to develop the range of services to better meet the varied needs of the increasing number of passengers.

The development programme is worth EUR 900 million. Its aim is to strengthen the position of Helsinki Airport in the international competition between airports and as a significant airline hub between Europe and Asia.

An internationally competitive airport is important for the well-being of Finland as a whole, as it helps the country maintain good flight connections for Finns to all destinations around the world.

Starting at the beginning of 2016, the terminal expansion project will enable Helsinki Airport to serve 20 million passengers annually by the year 2020.

Follow the ACI Europe Airport Commercial & Retail Conference in social media using hashtag #aciHelsinki.

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