Cautious Response for EU Airports Package
Geneva, December 4, 2011
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reacted cautiously to the recent European Commission’s Airport Package of Legislation publication which is aimed at addressing the critical issues of European airport capacity and competitiveness.
“Competitiveness and capacity of the air transport sector are critical foundation stones for the European economy. The airports package is an indication that the European Commission has recognised this and the urgent need to improve both. It is important that the publication is followed-up by a vigorous and open dialogue between all parties to refine the package to get the best results,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO.
IATA highlighted two of the package’s positive features- It welcomed the further liberalisation of the ground handling market which should allow airlines to provide a better and more efficient service at European airports.
IATA acknowledged that by legalising secondary trading of airport slots, the package provides a regulatory foundation for a practice that has become widespread. Transparent rules will ensure that this is done in fairness to all parties concerned.
“Our common goal is to ensure sufficient capacity and a competitive market for airport services across Europe. To this end, the industry provided input to the Commission in the development of the package to ensure that our views and experiences were understood. We are pleased that some of our major concerns have been taken into account,” said Tyler.
“Proposed changes to the use-it-or-lose-it slot rule will provide some perverse incentives that would not be in the interest of the environment, capacity or efficiency. Moreover, the current rules work well for all stakeholders. We look forward to continuing our dialogue to address the less helpful points included in the package so as to arrive at a solution that is aligned with the well-established global best practices of the IATA Worldwide Slot Guidelines,” said Tyler.
He said that regulation of existing capacity is not in itself a solution to provide the efficient infrastructure with sufficient capacity to meet Europe’s growing demand.
“Joined-up thinking among governments and with the Commission being coupled with the political will to implement, in order to ensure that the European economy benefits from the global connectivity that only air transport can provide. But governments are dragging their feet. A case in point is the long-delayed Single European Sky (SES). SES is targeting a critical increase in airspace capacity but states are not meeting their targets. The European air transport sector is structurally weak,” he said.
In September IATA forecast that European airlines will see profits plummet to $300 million in 2012 for an Ebit margin of just 0.8 percent. A revised industry outlook will be announced on 7 December. – TradeArabia News Service