Eurocontrol an intergovernmental organization based in Brussels that coordinates air traffic flow across the region. Also responsible for collecting route charges from carriers on behalf of its member states, Yesterday announced the agreement on the rescue packages with a press release issued by. Eamonn Brennan, Director General for Eurocontrol.
In a package deal agreed on Tuesday by Eurocontrol’s 41 member states, airlines flying in European airspace will be allowed to defer payment of air traffic control charges due for February through May. Payments will not need to be made until later this year, or early in 2021. This will allow airlines to save as much as €1.1 billion ($1.2bn) in cash.
The measure has been implemented in an attempt to offer some financial relief to already stressed airlines who are battling with the global downturn in travel demand.
The statement read “With traffic down 90%, our Member States have clearly recognised the shared challenge. This payment deferral will ease the immediate burden on airlines and it provides certainty on financial planning to both airlines and the air navigation service providers (ANSPs) on when payments will be made after the crisis has abated.”
In addition, the Eurocontrol DG said that many airlines had contacted Eurocontrol to say that they would not be in a position to facilitate their next payments. He further noted that arranging the relief measure had been complex and challenging, but that he felt his agency had been “relevant and helpful” to the industry in this time of crisis.
As reported by Forbes, the bill for en-route ATC charges for the European system totaled €518 million ($563m) in February, and invoices were raised mid-March. Payment was due by the 13th of April for disbursement to individual states. Member states have now agreed to defer that bill until November and to delay payment of charges for March, April, and May until 2021.
“This is exactly the kind of solidarity which the industry needs to show during this period of deep and unprecedented crisis. Once the COVID-19 restrictions start to be lifted, Europe will need its airlines to be in good enough shape to be able to jump-start the economy. This charges delay will help make a big difference in that cause,” said Rafael Schvartzman, IATA’s Regional Vice President for Europe in response to the deal.