Four key demands have been laid out by Europe’s five largest airlines in a shared vision for a new EU aviation strategy.
They cover the impact to aviation from airport charges, ground handling, air traffic control strikes and passenger taxes.
The chief executives of Air France KLM, easyJet, International Airlines Group, Lufthansa Group and Ryanair – Alexandre de Juniac, Carolyn McCall, Willie Walsh, Carsten Spohr and Michael O’Leary – are forming a so far unnamed new lobby group to be operational by October to support the industry.
The airline bosses agree that airline representation in Brussels is not as effective as it could be – with six airline representative organisations – and agreed to explore possible forms of future representation.
The five airlines between them carried a total of 420 million passengers in 2014, accounting for half of the passenger journeys in Europe.
The first meeting took place in Brussels, in response to new EU transport commissioner Violeta Bulc’s consultation on a new EU aviation strategy.
These 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, 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.
• Delivering reliable and efficient airspace by reducing air traffic control costs; ensuring that ATC strikes do not cause disruption to passengers across Europe; and re-setting the single European sky strategy by focusing on using new technology to make efficiency savings.
• Stimulating more economic activity and jobs by creating the right regulatory environment, removing passenger taxes and unreasonable environmental taxes.
They said: “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 1990’s, 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.”
O’Leary said more than 3,000 European flights have been cancelled affecting 600,000 passengers due to 10 ATC strikes in Europe so far this year.
He called for technology to be used to enable airlines to overfly strike-bound areas.
The airline chief executives claim their proposals will create many hundreds of thousands of jobs – particularly for young people, at a time of high youth unemployment in countries such as Italy or Spain – and increase Europe’s GDP.
The group will write to Bulc asking for their measures to be put in place and also ask for a meeting.
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