Air transport is a growth sector. Since liberalisation in 1992, the number of flights in European airspace has almost doubled. This means that airport movements – arrivals and departures – have also doubled. The largest airports were extremely busy then; they are even busier now, with many operating very close to their physical capacity limits.
At the same time, the ever-increasing cost of infrastructure in Europe demonstrates the monopolistic nature of airports and therefore the need for an effective regulatory framework. Because infrastructure costs account for a significant proportion of airlines’ operating costs, bringing them down would increase the competitiveness of airlines, to the ultimate benefit of the European consumer.
AEA is actively promoting enlightened national policies which take a holistic approach, taking into account the contribution that major airports make to the community and the economy, and the opportunity cost of failing to respond to demand, coupled with a falling market share. The EU’s Capacity Observatory gives Member States the opportunity to identify best practice and to benchmark themselves against the leading performers. It is only with a cohesive air transport policy that the looming capacity crisis can be averted. National governments should identify capacity challenges and define strategies to resolve them. In this context, there is a clear need for leadership at European level to coordinate these national strategies on capacity and to provide financial support as appropriate.
In May 2014, the European Commission published its report on the implementation of the Airport Charges Directive. The Commission rightly acknowledged some of the weaknesses in the current Directive, the problems associated with its transposition into national law and, ultimately, its implementation at local level. However, AEA is deeply disappointed that the EC report did not propose enough concrete steps to address these failings. Airlines need cost-efficient airport charges that are set in a transparent way, based on a meaningful consultation between airports and airlines, and that are subject to truly independent regulatory oversight. If this cannot be achieved under the current framework, improved legislation is necessary
The European aviation industry needs a level playing field with lower costs and higher service levels and a more liberalised value chain. In this context, AEA has long called for the further opening of the ground handling market in order to enhance the efficiency and overall quality of ground handling services at European airports.
The capacity crisis cannot be managed or alleviated through changes to the established airport Slot Allocation System. Slot allocation does not create capacity, it merely manages it. At congested airports there is extreme pressure on incumbent airlines to utilise their slots as intensively and efficiently as possible – bearing in mind that a slot held by a network carrier at its hub market is a component in a multitude of city-pair markets while a slot held by a point-to-point carrier applies to just one market. The current slot allocation system strikes a balance between planning stability for incumbent carriers and opportunities for new entrants.
The Association of European Airlines (AEA) welcomes the Commission’s announcement of an Aviation package as part of its Work Programme 2015. The package will include a Communication identifying challenges and measures for improving the competitiveness of the EU Aviation sector and the revision of the EASA basic regulation.Read More
Today, the European Commission published its report on the implementation of the Airport Charges Directive. The Commission rightly acknowledges some of the weaknesses in the current Directive, the problems associated with its transposition into national law and, ultimately, its implementation at local level.Read More