Europe’s largest airlines join forces for EU Aviation Strategy

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The CEOs of Europe’s five largest airline groups – Air France KLM, easyJet, International Airlines Group, Lufthansa Group and Ryanair – have agreed to work together to lobby for the development of a new EU Aviation Strategy that they say will support growth and jobs across Europe, strengthen the sector and give Europe’s passengers lower fares and more choice. 

Air France will retire its old Boeing 747-400s
Air France.

The agreement was forged in response to EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc’s consultation on a new EU Aviation Strategy.

The airlines identified four measures that would support the commission‘s objectives of enhancing the competitiveness of the European air transport industry both at European and international level, supporting growth and jobs across Europe and which would help consumers through the provision of more flights and lower fares.

According to a statement issued by the airlines, the measures are:

  • The development of an EU aviation strategy with a plan for a simple efficient regulatory structure, which would strengthen the competitiveness of European airlines, ensure jobs and growth through innovation (e.g. Horizon 2020), protect consumer interests and promote more efficiency to reduce costs.
  • Lowering the cost of the EU’s airports by ensuring that monopoly airports are effectively regulated; ensuring that passengers receive the full benefit of the commercial revenues, which they create at airports; and that security charges are efficient. This could be achieved by reforming the Airport Charges Directive.
  • Delivering reliable and efficient airspace by reducing the cost of ATC provision; ensuring that ATC strikes do not cause disruption to passengers across Europe; resetting the Single European Sky strategy by focusing on using new technology to make efficiency savings; and using SESAR funding to drive compliance with the Single Sky framework.
  • Stimulating more economic activity and jobs by creating the right regulatory environment, removing passenger taxes and unreasonable environmental taxes.

In a joint statement, the five CEOs – Alexandre de Juniac, Carolyn McCall, Willie Walsh, Carsten Spohr and Michael O’Leary – outlined their vision:

“Europe’s airlines form the most competitive sector in aviation with a diverse mix of carriers offering competition and choice to consumers. This is the first time we have set aside our competitive battles to highlight the importance of a new European Aviation Strategy.

“The liberalisation of aviation in Europe in the 1990s, creating a fully liberalised single market with a comprehensive common regulatory framework 18 years ago, strongly enhanced competition across Europe.As a result, consumers have benefited with substantially lower fares and more routes across Europe and to the rest of the world. At the same time, EU airlines have maintained leading safety standards. The range and quality of services have increased and airline costs have fallen by 1 – 2% per year for the last two decades.

“We believe that this decline should now be matched by a reduction in those costs which airlines do not control themselves.

“As the new Transport Commissioner prepares a new Aviation Strategy for Europe she must drive more competition, encourage more efficiency and help reduce costs in other parts of our industry (such as monopoly airports and Air Traffic Control providers) and reduce the tax burden on passengers.”

Alongside the proposed policy positions the five CEOs confirmed their support for several key principles and action items. The most important of these is the commitment to safety and ensuring that safety standards are developed based on a risk-based scientific assessment, they said.

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