EU approves Polish aid programme for airports affected by COVID-19

The European Commission announced on Tuesday that it had approved a EUR 32 mln Polish programme to compensate airports for their losses resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

Prepared by the authorities in Warsaw, the project complies with EU provisions on state aid, officials in Brussels stated.

To limit the spread of the coronavirus, on March 15, the Polish government banned all international and domestic passenger flights at domestic airports. The restrictions were gradually lifted from June 1, but some limitations and restrictive measures remained in place until the end of June.

The flight lockdown resulted in large losses for the operators of Polish airports. Under the recently approved programme, the Polish authorities will compensate airports for losses in revenues incurred in the period between March 15 and June 30, caused by the imposition of restrictions on international and domestic passenger services.

The aid is to be provided in the form of direct subsidies. The programme includes an insurance mechanism so that any support that would exceed the actual damage suffered by beneficiaries would have to be reimbursed to the budget. Therefore, the EC assessed that the risk of the state aid exceeding losses was excluded.

The Association of Regional Airport’s data shows that in the first half of 2020, 64 pct fewer passengers were carried by the planes taking off from the 13 airports countrywide than in the same period in 2019.

The total collapse of transport was recorded in the second quarter of 2020. At that time, only 80,000 people travelled from these airports by plane, which is as much as 7.99 million fewer passengers (99 percent) compared to the second quarter of 2019.