Airlines And Airports Back European Union Aviation Plans


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Industry bodies representing European airlines and airports have broadly welcomed the implementing details of the European Commission’s aviation strategy.

On June 8, the Commission issued a communication, named the “Open and Connected Aviation” package, which involves four measures:

  • A regulatory proposal aimed at “safeguarding” air transport competition
  • Guidelines on how to interpret the EU’s airline ownership and control rules
  • Best practices to mitigate the impact of air traffic control (ATC) strikes
  • Public service obligation (PSO) routes guidelines

Airlines for Europe (A4E)—representing the continent’s major network and low-cost carriers (LCCs)—was quick to welcome the ATC strike mitigation measures, which have been a central lobbying pillar for the young association.

“We now need courageous policymakers in Europe to help implement these best practices,” A4E managing director Thomas Reynaert said, urging rapid action.

A4E also welcomed a further push toward Single European Sky (SES) implementation; however, the body was notably silent on the other issues that brush against the Gulf carrier debate on which its members are divided.

Leisure carrier body—the International Air Carrier Association (IACA)—also focused its response on the ATC strike best practices, but said “swift adoption” of SES would deliver greater benefits.

Unlike A4E, IACA made a reference to the new “redressive measures” against anti-competitive behavior from third-country carriers, such as subsidies and discrimination. However, IACA called for multilateral fair competition principles through ICAO and WTO, as a better measure than a solely European approach.

“Therefore, we support that air services agreements should include provisions addressing unfair competition,” IACA said.

Europe’s airports, represented by Airports Council International Europe (ACI Europe), welcomed competitive clarification.

“The new rules tabled today should provide an objective, transparent and robust process to investigate alleged distortions of competition in air transport. This will hopefully allow us to move on from mere allegations and somewhat sterile debates to established facts and legal action, where needed. But this regulation should only really be applied as a last resort—when all the other avenues of agreed dispute resolution have been exhausted,” ACI Europe director general Olivier Jankovec said.

ACI Europe also welcomes the PSO guidance, saying it would help boost connectivity to remote regions.

“Taking note of the Commission’s intention to carry out a wider review of PSO rules, ACI Europe stressed the need to keep flexibility and avoid one-size-fits-all approaches given the wide variety of local circumstances in Europe’s more remote regions,” ACI Europe said.