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The European Commission’s newly published aviation strategy will do nothing to improve the overall competitiveness of the industry, a leading airline trade body claims.
The strategy, unveiled yesterday, is designed to address a range of topics and create a stronger and more competitive European airline sector.
But the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) believes it will not increase the long-term competitiveness of the industry compared to other methods of transport and non-European competitors.
The ERA argued that there needs to be a thorough analysis of the regulatory framework and clear plans to remove “unnecessary regulation and complex and disproportionate taxes”.
It also complained that reform of air traffic services is not coming quickly enough and the Single European Sky project “has not led to the radical efficiency shift that is needed”.
The ERA added: “Some airports are operated as monopolies and the existing regulatory regime, particularly with regards to airport charges, does not provide the necessary control or deliver sufficient transparency over their activities.
“A more concrete set of regulatory actions and economic regulations are needed to reduce the cost of these monopolies to EU citizens and air carriers than has been proposed in the strategy.”
However, the ERA is prepared to work with the Commission to ensure that the strategy is modified to deliver a stronger, fitter and more efficient air transport system.
Director general, Simon McNamara, said: “We are pleased that the strategy recognises that aviation is a driver of economic growth, jobs, trade and mobility and that a strategic review of the sector is needed to ensure that European aviation remains competitive and maintains its leadership in a global market.
“However, many of the strategy’s action points lack substance and will not tackle some of the underlying weaknesses of the industry.
“For example, the imminent lack of hub airport capacity in Europe threatens ERA’s members’ access to Europe’s largest airports and risks a loss of connectivity to Europe’s regions.
“Investment in aviation is also critical, whether through new infrastructure, aircraft, systems or people.
“This needs to be driven by access to funding through channels, including the European Investment Bank, with a greater recognition of aviation’s role as a social and economic enabler for Europe and its citizens.
“The strategy is a step forward, but it needs more work to deliver on its intent and ERA is looking forward to working with the EC, Council and Parliament to strengthen the plan.”
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