Airport Operators Association response to report on Europe-wide airport capacity shortfall

The Airport Operators Association (AOA), the trade body for UK airports, has responded to the publication of the recently completed “Challenges of Growth 2013” report from EUROCONTROL that warns of a looming airport capacity ‘crunch’ across the continent.

The report concludes that Europe faces a damaging lack of airport capacity in future years, with:

  • 12% of demand for air transport or 1.9 million flights unable to be accommodated due to a shortage in capacity
  • 237 million passengers across Europe unable to fly
  • A sharp increase in delays and congestion throughout the entire European network
  • Insufficient airport capacity will cost 230 million Euros in lost GDP to Europe
  • The UK is named as one of the countries where the aviation capacity crunch will be more acute

Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Airport Operators Association, said:

“These findings are very disturbing. Rather than airports having to lobby policy-makers for the right to grow, Europe’s governments should be encouraging the continent’s airports to provide the connectivity and capacity both now and in the future to deliver the connectivity required to link to existing and emerging markets. So why on earth are they failing to make the decisions required to deliver for Europe’s hard-pressed citizens?

“Demand for air travel will soon outweigh the supply in many parts of the continent, unless urgent action is taken by political decision makers to alleviate the problem. In the UK, for example, airports throughout the country are either full up already or face reaching capacity within the next 20-30 years – the UK government needs to respond to this challenge with unashamedly pro-aviation policies that promote growth in the sector and allow airports who wish to expand the opportunity to do so. Aviation in the UK contributes around £50 billion GDP, a million jobs, and over £8bn tax revenues. It is of vital strategic importance to this country’s hopes of securing economic prosperity and sustainable, long-term growth. Without it, the UK will not be able to develop better links with developing countries and compete in what the Prime Minister has correctly described as the ‘global race’.

“The AOA welcomes the recent Aviation Policy Framework as an important first step, and supports the work of the Airports Commission, calling upon all political parties to commit to acting on its recommendations when they are published in 2015. This report is a helpful reminder if it were needed that we need to take decisions on these vital issues sooner rather than later, so that we don’t lose out on jobs, business growth and connectivity in the future due to a lack of decisions being taken.”

For further information please contact Tim Alderslade on 0207 340 0992 or


Notes to Editors:

The Airport Operators Association (AOA) is the trade association that represents UK airports. Its mission is to see UK airports grow sustainably. It represents the views of UK airports to Government, Parliament and Regulators to secure policy outcomes that help deliver our mission. The AOA represents some 50+ UK airports and general aviation airfields in the UK. For more information, please visit