Regional airports and interregional connectivity

A strategically important sector that makes a vital contribution to the EU's overall economy and employment, aviation supports 5.1 million jobs and contributes €365 billion, or 2.4% to European GDP. Despite the current economic crisis, global air transport over the long term is expected to grow by around 5% annually until 2030.

Since 2001, the Assembly of European Regions has committed itself to defend and promote the role of regional airports as a tool for regional economic development and citizen mobility. To this aim, the AER is closely followed the European Commission's decisions regarding Regional Airports and state aid in 2013-2014.


AER Campaign: Revision of the ‘EU Guidelines on State Aid to Airports and Airlines’ 2013

Why is State aid to airports a Regional issue? 

The stricter rules within the revised guidelines will affect Regional Airports in particular. Following a 10 year transitional period, Regional Airports will no longer be able to receive public operating aid. Should the guidelines be published according to the European Commission’s initial proposal, the new rules would seriously infringe the ability of Europe’s regions to organise their transport services and therefore define coherent territorial development strategies.

What is the AER's position? 

AER calls on DG Regio to lead on a Regional Impact Assessment to establish the potential effects the new rules will have on the communities served by the small Regional Airports.
AER appreciates the importance of guaranteeing a framework for fair competition, however strongly advocates that these conditions should go hand in hand with economic, social and territorial cohesion
To best meet the twin-objective of protecting competition and boosting of economic growth and the facilitation of objectives of common European interest, the new EC guidelines need to be further tailored for the specificities of the market.
The guidelines should further recognise the considerable differences between European regions. It is primordial that regions are involved in the decision-making processes when it comes to supporting and developing key regional infrastructure.
AER calls on the European Commission to continue to support Regional Airports, given their nature as decentralised hubs and drivers of economic subsidiarity.
Download the full text of the AER Position Paper


What are the results of the campaign?

1/ Recognition of the key role regional airports play within the development of coherent territorial development strategies

2/ Increased flexibility with regards to operating aid: 

EC reconsidered its proposal to curb operating aid for all airports with more than 200,000 passengers per annum (ppa) after a 10 year transitional period 

A special regime has been set up for airports with up to 700,000 ppa, however, the EC intends to reassess this stop-gap measure in 4 years’ time.

Operating aid for smaller airports remains the most consequential element of the Guidelines, with grave repercussions for regional economies, if the wrong choices are made.

“The Commission’s initial proposal has evolved and the new Guidelines being released better reflect the economic realities of operating a small airport. They also recognise – at least for the time being – that closing down these airports would damage connectivity and kill regional communities across Europe, in particular in peripheral and remote areas. Regions must remain vigilant and speak up to protect our regional airports and the communities they serve." Jan OWE-LARSSON, President East-Sweden (SE), Chairman of the AER Working Group on Transport and Regional airports. 

Key actions of the 2013 campaign
AER participated in the European Parliament debate organised by MEP F. Proust on the revised EC guidelines, 17 September 2013
AER participated in the Airports Council International Europe Conference in Lyon on 16 April, alongside international stakeholders, regional and business representatives and DG Competition.
AER attended a meeting with ACI and the Cabinet of Commissioner Hahn, in order to voice the concerns of AER member regions on the revised guidelines.
Letter from AER Secretary General on the review of EC Guidelines (December 2012)
AER working group on Regional Airports

The working group is the main body supporting the implementation of the AER activities in the field of Regional airports.

To access the information on the working group page, please log in (top left-corner).

AER Contact

Coordinator Committee 1
+33 (0)3 88 22 74 44

Past Events and Activities

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