2021: Looking ahead on an important year for aviation
Sergi Alegre, Director General of Airport Regions Council, speaks to International Airport Review about his outlooks on the coming year for the aviation industry.
A lot has already been written about how important 2021 will be for the aviation and the airport sector, and much more will probably be observed in the coming months. The reason is clear: No other sector except for tourism has been more affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, for the Airport Regions Council (ARC) and its members, 2021 is a key year.
As showed in different statements and position papers, ARC welcomes and supports the European Union (EU) Recovery Program and the European Green Deal. Our goal for 2021 is thoroughly aligned with the EU agenda; ARC wants to contribute at European, regional and local levels to a green recovery of aviation and airport activities. A recovery which, unfortunately, might take longer than expected. This recovery has much potential, and not only as a sign of the end of the pandemic, but also as a sign of the same levels of mobility for business, tourism or personal issues, a sign of growth and employment that can guarantee quality of life and social cohesion.
ARC wants to contribute at European, regional and local levels to a green recovery of aviation and airport activities”
Having this clear goal in mind, ARC members approved in its Assembly, in November 2020, the main guidelines, which were later transposed into concrete actions by the Executive Committee during a virtual meeting on 19 February 2020 with Airport Regions Council’s President, Erich Valentin, at the forefront. The main activities and actions planned are laid out below:
Green recovery programmes
To boost our activities in Brussels in order for the green recovery programmes to take into consideration the voices and interests of airport regions, not only in the political guides, but in the practical regulations and procedures. Airport regions must have an important role and funding must be adapted to their needs as much as possible
To actively seek and participate in EU-funded projects (Horizon, Interreg, Erasmus, etc.) focused on how to handle the reconversion of jobs and how to fill in new vacancies with job seekers from the region. At the same time, on mitigating the environmental impact of airport and aviation activities (including mobility around the airport platform). In this sense, ARC is a partner of a Consortia that has submitted a proposal under the EU Green Deal Call.
Furthermore, we are looking forward to the next Interreg programme, since our members – regions and local governments – are key players in this field. We hope that the new programme will open a vast array of possibilities to share innovative best practices between airport regions. It would be particularly interesting to cooperate on a green recovery and to exchange on ways to cope with the collapse of activity during the pandemic
ARC’s 2021 goals
To organise activities that tackle the 2021 ARC goals. On 22 February 2021 – together with EUROCONTROL, the European Regional Airlines Association (ERAA) and the Association of Walloon Airports (SOWAER) – we organised a webinar on the topic of Collaborative Environmental Management (CEM). CEM is a tool meant to help decrease the environmental impact of aviation and airport activities in complex territories and complex activities through collaboration. Furthermore, we are planning to hold a webinar about the governance of airport regions, a key aspect, now more important than ever, with a significant amount of public money dedicated to sustaining and helping the recovery of the aviation and airport sectors. The future of sustainable fuels for aviation, which is a clearer and faster way to green aviation, will be another theme that we will discuss in our third webinar, organised with SENASA.
In addition, at the end of 2021, one of our landmark projects will come to an end: H2020-funded ANIMA (Aviation Noise Impact Management through novel Approaches). This project started in 2017 and is led by ONERA (the French aerospace lab). One of the key deliverables of ANIMA project is the Noise Platform, which is a unique initiative meant to increase the understanding of airport noise and its underlying concepts, as well as to strengthen transparent communication between airports and local communities. The platform will also comprise best practices generated by a study of 14 interventions in 13 different airports for the evaluation of noise management practices. To mark the end of this project, a high-level event will be organised in Brussels – together with policymakers, airports, local communities and researchers – at the end of 2021.
ARC’s training platform
To open our training platform, together with SENASA. The training platform is tailored to the needs of regional and local authorities, as well as airport authorities. The main aspects of the relationship between territories and airports are addressed: Mobility around airports; EU-funded airport and aviation projects; wildlife hazard management in the airport environment; safety and security incident root cause analysis for the aerodrome environment.
To strengthen our collaboration with aviation and airport stakeholders and with policymakers, working together to facilitate a swift and robust green recovery of the sectors.
Expanding the network
Last but not least, our efforts to expand the network of Airport Regions Council will be reinforced. What ARC learnt from the current crisis is that this can build a momentum when public administrations – in our case, local and regional – must react in the face of the unknown and the unpredictable, and must learn from the past and seize any opportunity to share, learn and connect with peers in the same situation.
Indeed, 2021 will not be a normal year, neither for ARC nor for its members, but, this year, we are looking at progress and not regress. The only way to go is forward, and ARC is committed to be part of a more innovative, just and sustainable future for all.
Sergi Alegre has a PhD in Contemporary History and is the Director General of Airport Regions Council. He is involved in the relationships between airports and local/regional administrations and was Vice Mayor of El Prat, the city that hosts the airport of Barcelona, for 27 years. He has participated as speaker in the main events linked to these items in Europe, America and China. He has been coordinator of some studies and participated in different EU projects.