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Air travellers to and from peripheral and under-served regions [What Europe does for you]

With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for air travellers to and from peripheral and under-served regions.

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Do you live in a peripheral or under-served region? If so, the EU is working to ensure that regions like yours are linked up to the air travel network.

Europeans have access to many more destinations than they used to thanks to the liberalisation of aviation in the EU in the 1990s (there are almost eight times as many routes now as there were in 1992). However, this may not ring true for you. In some remote regions and islands there is either insufficient demand or simply not enough flights, if any at all, to serve the needs of local communities.

To guarantee the economic and social development of these regions, the EU authorises exceptions to free market principles in aviation. Under certain conditions, EU law allows EU countries to impose public service obligations (PSO) in order to maintain scheduled air services on routes that are vital for peripheral or under-served regions. The operator’s choices have to be transparent and non-discriminatory, and information must be publicly available (on an EU website).

In 2017, there were 179 PSO-type routes in 13 European countries (Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom). Most of them were domestic routes while only seven linked airports in two different countries. France has the largest number of this kind of route (40) with some 5.7 million passengers travelling on these routes every year. In Ireland, meanwhile, PSOs represent a substantial share of domestic traffic (70 %).

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