Cyprus initiative for air connectivity in the EU signed by Karousos

The Minister of Transport, Communications and Works of Cyprus, Giannis Karousos, referred to the Cyprus initiative together with seven other Member States to seek solutions for connectivity issues during his arrival at the European Union Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council, which takes place on Thursday in Brussels.

0086AEB5 E6C6 4C7D 9BA3 5DF466A9119D Air Flights, Giannis Karousos

The Minister of Transport, Communications and Works of Cyprus, Giannis Karousos, referred to the Cyprus initiative together with seven other Member States to seek solutions for connectivity issues during his arrival at the European Union Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council, which takes place on Thursday in Brussels. .

Mr Karousos noted that connectivity was crucial for the EU and that the pandemic had created significant problems in this area.

"The number of passengers decreased by 68% in 2021 compared to 2019 and that is why we took the initiative and submitted the Declaration on Air Connectivity in June 2021 together with seven other Member States," he said.

Mr Karousos welcomed the fact that four more countries supported the declaration, which meant that many Member States shared the same concerns.

"The aim of the declaration is to jointly find solutions to support connectivity, as connectivity is crucial and important for the citizens, for the European Union and also very important for the environment," he stressed.

As he said, during the discussion in the Council he will expand further on the proposal and will present details in the context of his intervention.

Cyprus is one of the countries where it relies on its air connectivity as it has no land borders. However, especially in the winter months, the flights are minimal while the direct flights to European destinations are few and most of the time the prices are high.

The extension of the temporary support measures of the Commission in aviation beyond the first half of 2022 and on a more systematic basis with a three-year horizon is requested by a group of member states, at the initiative of Cyprus, according to a proposal presented by the Minister in Brussels on Thursday. Transport, which is supported by another 11 Member States as informed by KYPE.

The proposal, which has been seen by KYPE, also underscores the need for the changes promoted by the Commission for the Environmental Sustainability of Aviation to take into account the connectivity of countries in the EU region and especially countries such as Cyprus that have limited interconnection options with other Member States.

The Cyprus initiative focuses on the connectivity problems faced by countries in the EU periphery due to the lack of connections, which creates price increases and limited options.

According to information from KYPE, the initiative has so far been supported by eleven other Member States, namely Greece, Estonia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Malta, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Portugal and Slovakia. .

The aim of the initiative is to create more systematic tools, with in-depth planning over three years, to support connectivity between all EU countries, especially the most remote ones, in the effort to move to a green economy.

These proposals will be developed by a group of experts from the Member States supporting the initiative. Once the proposals are approved by the Ministers of Transport, they will be forwarded to the Commission for processing.

In particular, in the intervention of Cyprus by the signatory states of the declaration, it is noted that air connectivity in the EU remains low despite the optimistic forecasts of experts for the period after the pandemic, but also unequal among the Member States, with some states having recover and some experience reduced movement by up to 40% compared to the period before the pandemic.

This sector also faces challenges in terms of its sustainability, which makes the transition to environmentally sustainable development and carbon dioxide emissions urgent.

The countries that support the declaration emphasize that, given the current situation, the legislative proposals tabled 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, and

Not be at a disadvantage and disproportionately affect EU Member States and island states that depend solely on aviation.

The proposal follows a declaration presented to the Transport Council in June 2021 by Cyprus, Greece, Estonia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

The Minister of Transport also makes a series of contacts regarding the proposal. Arriving in Brussels on Wednesday, he met with Conrad Clifford, Senior Vice President and Deputy Director-General of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and Jorge Diege, Director of Foreign Affairs and Europe.

Contacts with executives from AirportCouncilInternational and AirlinesforEurope

The Minister of Transport, Communications and Works, Giannis Karousos, had a series of contacts with high-ranking executives of the International Airport Council (ACI) and the Airlines for Europe Organization on Thursday in Brussels.

In particular, the Minister of Transport held separate meetings with the Director General and Deputy Director General of Airport Council International (ACI) Oliver Jancovic and Morgan Foulkes, as well as with the CEO and Policy Director of Airlines for Europe Thomas Reynand and Agnes Ler .

During the meetings, the discussion focused on the Declaration on Air Connectivity, an initiative highlighted by the Minister of Transport of Cyprus. The Declaration has already been adopted by 11 Member States of the European Union and it is expected that, during tomorrow's meeting of the EU Council of Ministers of Transport, it will receive further support from other countries of the European Union.

Considering that the pandemic has created huge problems in island and peripheral states in terms of their connectivity, Cyprus has managed to highlight the need to formulate a comprehensive plan at European Union level to address this problem in the post-pandemic era.

ACI representatives referred to their own research that shows that passenger traffic in 2021 compared to 2019 decreased by 68%. At the same time, they stated that a complete recovery of the sector is expected within 2025.

In addition, representatives of Airlines for Europe referred to data from Eurocontrol, which shows that about 45% of direct flights have been canceled in 2020, thus reducing the connectivity of European countries. This fact, according to the Agency, has negatively affected the industry. Mr. Karousos was briefed on a survey conducted by the Agency, which examined ways to achieve the goal of reducing pollution by 2050, without adversely affecting the aviation sector.

Representatives of the two major organizations welcomed the Cyprus initiative and said that the content of the Declaration includes elements that will help improve the situation at European level in terms of connectivity.

They noted that the aviation sector is in a difficult position internationally due to a pandemic and pointed out the need for initiatives, such as those of Cyprus, to return to normalcy.

Finally, they conveyed their will and readiness to contribute with their know-how to the Cyprus initiative and welcomed the intention of the Cypriot Minister to organize a conference in Cyprus, dedicated to connectivity.