LONDON (UK) – British Airport Authority (BAA), which has announced today an operating profit of GBP 500 million, is being unfairly funded by EU taxpayers via the European Investment Bank (EIB) [1], according to a coalition of environmental and social justice organisations.

The coalition which includes Friends of the Earth, MEPs, respected academics and grassroots organisations has written to the EIB calling on it to stop financing the UK’s massive airport expansion plans which breach its own investment and environmental policies. [2]

The EIB has a remit to fund projects that are environmentally sustainable and economically sound developments. [3] However, the EIB has provided almost a billion euros worth of loans in the last five years to BAA, a key player in the aviation industry which is the fastest growing source of CO2, the chief contributor to climate change.

The EIB is also breaching its own statute by lending money to projects where funds are available from other sources on reasonable terms. BAA admits that it could easily have got the funds it received from the EIB elsewhere. [4]

EU taxpayers, including those from the UK, fund the EIB, yet the UK government says that the aviation industry receives no government support [5]. The bank provides virtually interest free loans and has provided finance for BAA projects like the expansion of Heathrow and Gatwick airports for many years.

Friends of the Earth EWNI Aviation campaigner Richard Dyer commented,”This is another case of taxpayers’ money being used to prop up the hugely polluting aviation industry. The EIB should scrap the handouts it gives to BAA and other airport developers immediately.”

Friends of the Earth International finance institutions campaigner Hannah Ellis commented, “Current EIB financing of the aviation industry is not only in breach of European Union principles but also the EIB’s own statute. The bank should only invest in projects that truly do contribute to ‘social and economic cohesion’ in the European Union, as per the EIB’s original mandate.”

Magda Stoczkiewicz, who leads the EIB campaign for CEE Bankwatch Network and Friends of the Earth International adds, “The research we have done recently shows that the EIB has provided more than EUR 7.5 billion loans to the aviation sector in the last six years. We believe that the EIB, as a public bank, should be promoting public benefit instead of flying with big business.”


[1] The EIB is the non-profit making lending bank of the European Union, backed by EUR 150 billion of member states contributions.

[2] A copy of the letter is available from Friends of the Earth EWNI media unit.

[3] The EIB’s Statute sets out the legal, financial and administrative framework for the Bank’s activities, established by the Treaty of Rome in 1958.

[4] Alan Jackson, Treasury Manager at BAA, interview April 2003.

[5] The majority of UK airports operate on a commercial basis whether privately or publicly owned, the exceptions are airports receiving Objective 1 & 2 money and small airports assisted by local councils such as those in the Scottish highlands and islands – DfT Aviation White Paper Dec. 2003


Richard Dyer: Tel +44 (0)7940 850328
Hannah Ellis: Tel +44 (0)7952 876929/Media office +44 20 7566 1649
Magda Stoczkiewicz: Tel +31 (0)652 41 03 23