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Airports threatened by subsidy cut

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14:57 CEST+02:00
Several Swedish airports could be under threat after a report suggested that they should not received state aid.

The report into the future of Swedish airports, presented to Infrastructure Minister Åsa Torstensson on Tuesday, proposed turning airport operator LFV, currently a government agency, into a state-owned company. LFV should consider selling airports such as Gothenburg Landvetter and Malmö Sturup, it added.

The most contentious part of the report is the proposal that airports in Borlänge, Norrköping, Storuman and Västerås lose their central government support altogether. These airports are not of regional strategic importance nor national strategic importance, the review concluded.

The news that the local airport could lose government support was met with dismay by local politicians in Storuman, 230km inland from Umeå in northern Sweden.

Bengt-Göran Burman, deputy chairman of Storuman council, said an end to the 8 million kronor annual state grant would spell "catastrophe" for the town.

"We are in the middle of a growth period, with new mines among other things. We are dependent on air travel," he said. The council, which owns the airport, was not in a position to make up the shortfall.

"A sparsely populated municipality like ours can't manage it," he said.

The next closest airport to Storuman is in Lycksele, 78km away.

Other airports could see their state support increased. The state should guarantee to cover the entire operating losses of airports judged to be of national strategic importance. For regionally strategic airports, the state should guarantee 75 percent of operating losses, the report recommends.

Lena Micko, chairwoman of Svenskt Flyg, which represents the Swedish airline and airport industry, said it was "good that they are reviewing the distribution of state operating support," but added that it would be difficult for the airports that lose out to continue running.

She also said that the overall level of state support for airports, 100 million kronor, was too low.

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