Cyprus urges EU connectivity action plan

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A dozen EU states back an initiative by Cyprus requesting the Commission’s temporary support measures for air transport be extended beyond mid-2022 and put on a three-year time horizon.

This is according to a proposal tabled by Cypriot Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos in Brussels on Thursday, which is supported by another 11 member states.

“Passenger numbers are down by 68% in 2021 compared to 2019, and that is why we took the initiative,” Karousos said.

The proposal, seen by CNA, also underlines that the Commission’s proposals towards the environmental sustainability of aviation need to consider the connectivity of countries on the EU periphery, especially Cyprus, with limited connection options with other countries.

The initiative is also supported by Greece, Estonia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Malta, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Portugal and Slovakia.

It aims to create more systematic tools, planned over three years, to support connectivity between all EU countries, especially the most remote ones, in the transition to a green economy.

Specific proposals will be developed by experts from the Member States supporting the initiative.

Once the Transport Ministers have approved the proposals, they will be forwarded to the Commission for processing.

The proposal notes that air connectivity in the EU remains low despite optimistic forecasts for the post-pandemic period.

Connectivity is also uneven between member states, with some countries fully recovered and some facing up to 40% less traffic than in the pre-pandemic period.

The group of interested countries stresses that, given the current situation, the legislative proposals put forward by the Commission must:

  • ensure a level playing field in the EU aviation market without adversely affecting the competitiveness of the sector
  • not lead to an increase in prices for consumers
  • not disadvantage and disproportionately affect Member States of the EU`s periphery and island states solely dependent on air transport

The proposal follows a declaration presented to the Transport Council in June by Cyprus, Greece, Estonia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

Karousos is conducting a series of contacts on the proposal, including Conrad Clifford, senior vice president of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and its director of External Affairs and EU affairs, Jorge Dieguez.

There have also been contacts with Airport Council International (ACI) executives Oliver Jancovic and Morgan Foulkes and Airlines for Europe CEO Thomas Reynand and policy director Agnes Leroux.