The European Court of Auditors’ report into EU-funded airports finds that the EU spent €129m between 2000 and 2013 on building airport infrastructure that was not needed.

eu funded airport infrastructures20 airports in Spain, Italy, Greece, Poland and Estonia, built with €666m of EU funds were examined.

One Greek airport had running costs of €7.7m between 2005 and 2012, while revenues were €176,000. The EU approved a €16.5m extension to its runway, which has yet to be used.

Cordoba airport in Spain received just 7,000 passengers in 2013 – compared with a forecast of 179,000. Spain’s Fuerteventura airport added 14 boarding gates based on a forecast of 7.5 million passengers; six were later closed due to lack of traffic.

The auditors found that in only four of the audited infrastructure expansions was the work funded ‘in line with real needs’ – and that excessive capacity was created in 11.

They concluded that for most of these regional airports, there was little evidence of an improvement in customer service or of regional socio-economic benefits, such as job creation.

Transport and Environment has criticised EU money being spent on regional airports at the expense of vastly underfunded, more sustainable modes of transport. Andrew Murphy, Transport & Environment’s aviation policy officer, points out that governments already exempt this most carbon-intensive form of transport from fuel taxes and VAT worth over €30 billion per annum.

The report will be of interest to those wishing to curb the expansion of airports because of adverse effects on the EU/public purse, neighbouring residents’ health and peace and the global environmental effects.

The clearest and most detailed account read was published in European Voice:

Read the full report: