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ARC Manifesto

The aviation industry is one of the many sectors that constitute an essential global economic and human development element. It supports the rise in connectivity between cities and countries to enable the flow of goods, people, capital, and technology. With this, the airline sector certainly plays a fundamental role in society, but it also has its own fair share of challenges. Airport Regions Council (ARC), as the only European representative organisation of regions and cities with an airport situated within or near their territories, calls to the future European parliamentarians to work together to develop adequate air policy transport to reach an EU Good for all airport and aviation sectors.


As it is well known, aviation and airport sectors in Europe face a crucial moment in their relatively short history; on the one hand, all indicators and forecasts show robust growth as our economies and lives become increasingly global. On the other hand, there is already a joint agreement that aviation must become, like the rest of sectors, a green fair sector. Mainly, its impact on our planet must be reduced to the nearest to zero and must maximise and digitalise as much as possible all its resources -airports, planes, etc.- to handle the best of the ways vast numbers of people with greater diversity (ages, cultures etc.) and a greater demand of quality of experience what is not only connected with infrastructures and technology if not with the human resources factor. 


Sustainability 


Sustainability and the linked obligated decarbonisation have become the vault keys of new aviation suitable for all. The public and private sectors have made many efforts, and more will be needed. ARC considers that regarding SAF, the EU should provide adequate regulatory and financial support to ensure SAF production, secure a common playing field, get maximum independence from overseas, and promote and attract investments facilitating the creation of jobs. Regarding electricity and green hydrogen, the EU should promote intensively the coordination between airport energy plans with the regional and local plans to avoid mismatches; regulations should impulse and support the on-site production, storage, and distribution on air & land side, and finally, the promotion of energy communities including housing nearby should be facilitated. 


On the other hand, ARC considers that none of the aviation and airport stakeholders, either the EU or state institutions, should minimise the need to keep and reinforce the efforts to reduce as much as possible the air noise impact, to develop programs of noise management and the development of compensation actions for the people heavily disturbed by air noise. Europe should not forecast a constant growth in the number of flights if not considering strengthening the combat against all aspects of air pollution.


Mobility

Most airports deal with the challenge of flow growth through their development strategy, but they can sometimes overlook its impacts on the different geographic scales of ground transportation. It should also be focused on more than enhancing mass transit between the airport and the city centre. Still, it should also deal with connections to nearby cities, secondary business centres or within the airport city and its urban developments. 

In a budget-constrained era, investing with care in public transportation has become necessary. Each segment of users calls for a specific approach considering its needs, priorities, and constraints: employees or air passengers, business or leisure trip purposes, coming from high or low urban density areas, etc. 

Therefore, ARC asks all European political families to work intensely on the development till the last step of the "door-to-door vision" from all points of view: investments, information, ticketing, and management of transport modes. Air transport and surface access (train, buses, taxis, car-sharing) must coordinate and work together to improve the travel experience and reduce the environmental impact. 


Employability

Workers in the aviation and airport sectors -most living near the airport platforms- are essential for this industry's present and future development. Still, the truth is that aviation workers now face immense pressure due to severe staff shortages and are increasingly burdened with unattractive and precarious job conditions. Consequently, the aviation industry faces a capacity crisis as individuals simply opt not to re-enter the sector. Moreover, the industry heavily relies on highly skilled and experienced professionals in every aspect. Merely replacing workers to reach adequate numbers does not ensure the same level of safety as before the pandemic. The loss of expertise and skill should be a concern for all.

Social dialogue and collective bargaining are crucial in the European labour policy and social model. It is imperative for the EU to ensure that companies operating in Europe and with an economic interest in Europe respect and promote social dialogue and collective bargaining. Furthermore, it is crucial to consider social solid conditionality when providing public funding during crises so that workers are not adversely affected by redundancies and reduced salaries and conditions. In addition, sectorial social dialogue at the EU level is particularly essential in the aviation industry, which is inherently international and often involves multinational companies.


Governance

ARC acknowledge that governance of airport areas is a difficult challenge because airport areas rarely constitute specific jurisdictions with clear borders, own institutions, and administrative bodies. Instead, they are generally characterised by a complex and fragmented institutional landscape that involves multiple private and public stakeholders with differing and sometimes competing interests, values, and policies on many issues across various geographical scales. 

However, airport areas are no longer just infrastructures of financial assets but vital economic drivers of regional economies that contribute to the territories' social and economic development. In the era of corporate social responsibility, airport governance should evolve towards more holistic approaches. Environmental and social impacts, accessibility, tourism, logistics, employment, and land planning are some topics demanding the deployment of new airports' governance models with an essential and active role of local and regional administrations and their linked organisations. 

This participated governance will also facilitate the application of the vision of EU standards and local solutions linked with the principle of subsidiarity.


Urban Air Mobility

With the advent of Urban Air Mobility (UAM), the use of airborne vehicles (e.g., Commercial drones and 'flying taxis') in and over cities by various users will soon become a reality. Local and regional government authorities see potential in using UAM services for increasing life quality in populated areas (urban/regional/rural) by offering quicker assistance from first responders, the inspection of critical infrastructure and buildings, and the sustainable socially supported transport of goods and persons, to name a few. However, activities in the third dimension over cities and regions will be separate from other aviation operations and face the same airspace integration challenges as in the upper airspace. Instead, there will be close interaction with the ground in ways unknown today. For example, drones being audible and visible from the ground could, therefore, interfere with existing societal habits and infrastructure at urban and regional levels. This is where local and regional governments, accountable for their citizens, stress the sine qua non-need for multilevel governance of the low-level airspace overpopulated areas. On the other hand, urban air mobility must be included in the transport policies of urban areas, mainly in their SUMPs (Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans); it can not be seen and considered as an ad hoc system.


Therefore, the Airport Regions Council requests the coming MEPs to ensure legislation that considers the role of cities and regions as one of the competent authorities in the governance of the urban airspace, and it is necessary to recognise this role explicitly acknowledged and referenced in the prospective U-Space legislative clauses of Member States. This is imperative in the context of multilevel governance of U-Space and responsive decentralised policy implementation and the only way to face the four main challenges of the development of UAM: governance, environment, safety, security, and transparency. 


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