Building a more competitive European aviation sector
Brussels - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) urged
European policy-makers to focus aviation efforts on measures to shore-up
the competitiveness of Europe's aviation sector. "Safety and security
must always come first.
But at this critical time for European economies it is important that
policies focus on measures that support economic growth and job
creation, enhance competitiveness and support sustainable development,"
said Tony Tyler, IATA's Director General and CEO.
Tyler also urged policy-makers to work with industry on win-win
solutions. "There are numerous areas of common interest between what is
good for the industry and what is good for Europe," said Tyler. He noted
that such an approach could help avoid "unintended consequences" of
"At present, the general direction is on 'restricting and taxing'
aviation. Instead of 'enabling' policies, they seem focused on
'disabling'-an unintended consequence that imposes a big cost on
European airlines' competitiveness," said Tyler.
Tyler's remarks came in a speech to the European Aviation Club. Key
points include the following policy priorities:
Capacity: While IATA welcomed many aspects of the recent Airports
Package, Tyler highlighted the industry's concern for the intention to
change the 80:20 use-it-or-lose-it rule to 85:15 for airport slot
"The current 80:20 rule is based on IATA's Worldwide Slot Guidelines
which are used at 161 airports globally. Changing this to 85:15
incentives airlines to fly when demand is not there. Flying empty planes
does not improve competitiveness or environmental performance, which is
surely an unintended consequence. The focus should shift to building the
airport capacity needed to fulfil economic growth," said Tyler.
Single European Sky (SES): SES will improve Europe's competitiveness
by increasing airspace capacity, improving safety, cutting carbon
emissions by some 16 million tonnes annually and halving air traffic
The latest SES progress report notes that only five out of 27 states
are on track to meet agreed upon targets to reduce delays and improve
cost-efficiency. And only one out of the nine Functional Airspace Blocks
is expected to meet the year-end target deadline. "This is a
make-or-break year for SES. Europe cannot afford to fail. I appreciate
the urgent efforts of Vice President Siim Kallas. If states cannot
deliver results, then it is time for the Commission to drive a top-down
approach," said Tyler.
EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS): IATA continued to call for a
global solution through the International Civil Aviation Organisation
(ICAO) as the key to breaking the impasse on Europe's plans to
unilaterally include international aviation in the EU ETS. "The
unintended consequences of the unilateral and extra-territorial approach
go beyond market distortions to states seeing this as an attack on their
I am sensing a growing recognition in Brussels that a global scheme
developed through ICAO would provide a superior solution for managing
aviation's emissions and to resolving the political problems caused by
extending the scheme beyond Europe's borders. This is encouraging and we
will do all that we can to promote a pragmatic solution. But time is not
on our side.
Airlines from Europe may face some retaliatory action. And some
non-European airlines may have to choose whether to obey the law of
their land or that of Europe-two more unintended consequences which
should convince all states that ICAO is the way forward," said Tyler.
Biofuel: Tyler noted that sustainable biofuels were a key component
of the aviation industry's commitments to cap net emissions from 2020
and cut them in half by 2050 compared to 2005 levels. "To move from
demonstration flights to being a major component of the industry's
consumption, we need the price to drop and the supply to increase.
The unintended consequence of current policy is driving biomass and
investment towards road transportation which has alternative energy
sources. This urgently needs to be redressed-not via blend mandates but
by providing the right policy incentives to attract investment and
de-risk the scaling up of commercial aviation biofuels projects," said
Benefits of Aviation
Tyler reiterated the economic benefits of aviation. "With austerity
budgets across Europe, export revenues from cargo and tourists are
critical to support jobs and GDP growth. Over 35% of the value of goods
traded internationally are transported by air.
The 655 million people who flew into Europe last year facilitated
business and tourism. And the aviation supply chain sustains millions of
European jobs, which became visible when the 2010 volcanic ash crisis
brought Europe and much of the world to a halt," said Tyler.