The European Commission has been urged to embrace “bold, exciting and world-leading reforms” by Etihad Airways.
The call by the Gulf carrier comes as the Commission considers an strategic aviation package designed to overhaul Europe’s air transport industry.
The airline’s submission to the Commission calls for a relaxing in restrictions on market access and investments by non-European airlines as well as action to address “critical shortfalls” in aviation infrastructure.
Etihad Airways has invested in five European airlines – Alitalia (49%), Air Berlin (29%), Air Serbia (49%), Aer Lingus (4.99%) and the Swiss regional carrier Darwin Airline, which trades under the Etihad Regional brand (33%).
The Abu Dhabi-based airline said: “We welcome the opportunity to contribute to this important process, given our significant operations into Europe and our investments in a number of European carriers.
“We believe that this gives us a unique perspective on the current regulatory environment in Europe, as well as a sense of what needs to change in order to ensure a vibrant and competitive industry in the future.
“The strategic aviation package proposed by the European Commission represents a significant ‘window of opportunity’ to strengthen the European air transport sector as an economic and social enabler, and a key driver of growth, through bold, exciting and world-leading initiatives which improve the efficiency of the industry and increase global flight connectivity.”
President and chief executive, James Hogan, said: “Aviation in 2015 is global, not local.
“By taking a strategic and holistic approach to aviation policy-making, the European Commission can deliver meaningful change, not just for Europe, but also for the benefit of air travellers and the airline industry worldwide, just as the US did with its visionary open skies policy.”
He added: “Etihad Airways recognises the enormous growth achieved by liberalisation of intra-European airline operations, and urges the European Commission to now be the catalyst for global air transport reforms by easing restrictions on non-European airline access to member states and global investment in airlines domiciled within the EU.
“Such liberalisation would align with the Commission’s commitment to adopt policies which create investment, employment and economic confidence, while also providing access to new sources of capital via international investment.
“The strategic aviation package clears the way for a new round of change, not just for aviation within Europe, but for European aviation in a global market.
“The European Commission has a rare and important opportunity to reset the agenda with bold, exciting and world-leading reforms, which increase competition, benefit consumers and drive economic growth.”
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