On January 10th Basil O’Fee (Expert support for SPARA2020) attended a lunchtime debate at the European parliament in Brussels hosted by German MEP Ismail Ertug. This was part of a series of discussions informing consideration of the ‘Aviation Package’ from the Perspective of: Regional Aerodromes / Airlines, General + Business Aviation.
The lunchtime debate themes were more specifically European Aviation Strategy, state aid guidelines, IFR into VFR-airports, and a connectivity-index. MEPs, European Commission, EASA, EUROCONTROL and The International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations (IAOPA) Europe, European Business Aviation Association (EBAA), the European Economic Interest Group, and Airport Regions Conference to name a few. The CEO of the Interessengemeinschaft der regionalen Flugplätze IDRF e. V. (Thomas Mayer) acted as chair. Dörthe Hausmann, CEO Rostock Airport spoke of the special challenges facing airports such as Rostock, which could be summarised as the disproportionate cost burdens bearing in mind the modest passenger throughput.
The EBAA reminded legislators of the importance of business aviation and IAOPA spoke of the ambition for General Aviation to fly under Instrument Flight Rules, and not just at big airports, but also at smaller aerodromes with Non-Instrument Runways. They want to fly with smart guidance for maximum safety wherever possible. With EGNOS and LPV-Approaches Europe offers the required cost-effective approach-tools for Non-Instrument Runways, but National States implement them too slow. In Europe we have only 20 approved approaches; in the USA more than 1500.
Discussion was also had on efforts to create a suitable connectivity index for European airports that takes good account of the smaller regionals. Basil O’Fee was able to relate on the work of both the UK Regional and Business Airport’s group and its policy asks, and also the work of SPARA 2020 on working for more sustainable small airports. The commonality of issues shared with German and Spanish colleagues in attendance was remarkable.
Léa Bodossian of the Airports Region Council and member of SPARA29020 Expert Advisory Board was in attendance, and is pictured in the lobby of the parliament, after the meeting, with Thomas Mayer.