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Airports Association Warns of Schengen Fall Consequences

The Airports Council International Europe has released a statement warning of great consequences should the Schengen zone fall. Due to the unprecedented migration crisis that has taken place in Europe in recent months and along with new terrorist threats, the Schengen system has been up against great challenges.

The system was created over 30 years ago and serves as a passport-free zone. This week, however, leaders in the European airport industry weighed in on the debate about whether or not the Schengen system should remain active.

ACI Europe released a statement saying that “the removal of internal air border controls… has played an essential role in the availability of efficient and affordable air services for European citizens.” While in 1990 only 600 million passengers used European airports, today that number has grown to 1.95 billion passengers a year.

Olivier Jankovec, director general of ACI Europe, says that should the Schengen system collapse, a difficult restructuring of airport facilities would be required involving investments that could easily surpass hundreds of millions of euros for each of the largest Schengen airports. “The immediate impact would be unprecedented levels of congestion and flight disruptions, with potential spillover effects across the entire European airport network,” he adds.

A possible solution would be the Commission’s Border Package, which provides for systematic document and security check at airports of all persons against relevant databases whenever they exit or enter the Schengen common area.

Jankovec also says that this should be implemented as soon as possible. However, he argues it would require deployment of additional police and border control staff at airports and with current border control staffing levels under stress at many airports, there is concern about whether more resources can be made available.

“Maintaining passenger service levels is already a challenge, and if we do not get adequate staffing, the situation will get worse. We hope Governments will fulfill their State responsibilities,” he added.

[Photo: Alamy]

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