The European Union’s airport strategy has been branded an outrageous waste of taxpayers’ money by UKIP’s Transport spokesman Jill Seymour.
Millions of euros of have been wasted on too many airports, and on airports that are too close together and do not attract enough passengers, according to the European Court of Auditors.
A staggering 38 million euros worth of infrastructure is not being used at all, according to the damning ‘EU funded airport infrastructures: poor value for money’ report.
Due to a lack of adequate planning and forecasting, EU auditors say some of the funded airports are too close to one another, while some construction projects are too big for the numbers of planes and passengers involved.
“It is outrageous that UK taxpayers’ money is being spent in this way by the EU on ludicrous ghost airports in Europe,” said Mrs Seymour, an MEP for the West Midlands.
“A total of 666 million euros has so far been invested into 20 new ‘ghost’ airports across Europe. This is a poor use of our tax money, especially when our own existing airport infrastructure needs more capacity and improvement.”
Mrs Seymour added: “With European air traffic set to double by 2030, it is time for the EU to listen to the warnings given by European Court of Auditors member George Pufan.
“The Commission must improve the way it invests in our airports by funding only those which are profitable – and where there is a proven, and properly costed investment need.”
The EU auditors examined investment projects at 20 airports – in Estonia, Greece, Italy, Poland and Spain – which received more than 600 million euros of EU money from 2000 to 2013.
The auditors found that only half of these airports could show the need for EU-funded investment, and that funded infrastructure was often underused.
Mrs Seymour said: “Worst of all, the report found that seven of the airports involved, mostly those with fewer than 100 000 passengers per year, were not financially self-sustainable and will struggle to remain in operation without more public money.
“We cannot keep throwing taxpayers’ money into a black hole in this cavalier fashion.”