Vision and strategy of European airports development – at the aviation conference in Vilnius


2016 05 13


On May 12-13 Vilnius hosts ACI EUROPE’s Regional Airports’ Conference and Exhibition, an event organised by the Airports Council International (ACI), which is held in a different country every year. At the conference, about 200 aviation experts – CEOs, commercial, finance and strategic development executives of European and non-European airports, the representatives of the European Commission, the members of the board of ACI Europe, heads of companies operating in airports, and other aviation specialists discuss challenges faced by European regional airports.

At the conference, lecturers give reports, participants take part in discussions and share good experience on how to ensure that small airports that handle up to 5 million passengers per year remain attractive and competitive, and how to enhance their cooperation with various institutions.

According to Vice-Minister of Transport and Communications Arijandas Šliupas, in 2015 Lithuania was one of the leaders in Europe in the category of small airports by the growth of passenger numbers. During the last year the number of passengers handled in Lithuanian airports increased 11.3 per cent, compared to an average growth of 5.2 per cent in other European countries and an average growth of 3.8 per cent in small airports.

“The overview of the experience of the European aviation sector shows that, in general, the growth of the number of passengers handled in a country’s airports is twice as much as the growth of the country’s GDP. But in terms of this indicator Lithuania is far ahead of this European tendency, comparing Lithuania’s 1.7 per cent annual growth of GDP with a 6.5 times faster growth in the number of passengers in the country’s airports last year. This shows how important airports are for the national and regional economy, and how they boost the growth of GDP and the creation of jobs in the aviation sector,” says the Vice-Minister Šliupas.

According to the Vice-Minister, the combined management of the country’s all three airports, which started in 2014, significantly contributed to the efficiency of the operations of Lithuanian airports. The next step is based on good experience of European countries and will involve the management of the country’s airports through concession.

The latest ACI Europe data show that the involvement of business in the management of European airports over the last five years has remarkably increased. Amid changing political approaches and as national budgets become more restricted, and with a view to improving communication by air and developing the infrastructure of airports, at the moment 41 per cent of European airports (205) have private shareholders, compared to just 22 per cent in 2010. Over five years private investors began to take part in the management of nearly one hundred European airports. Only in seven EU countries – the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Luxemburg, Slovakia, Finland and currently Lithuania – airports are controlled by the state.

ACI EUROPE is the European region of Airports Council International. ACI is the only worldwide professional association of airport operators. ACI EUROPE represents over 450 airports in 44 countries. Member airports handle 90% of commercial air traffic in Europe, welcoming over 1.5 billion passengers each year.