Etihad Urges EC To Embrace Reforms

Etihad Airways is urging the European Commission to embrace “bold, exciting and world-leading reforms” as part of the Strategic Aviation Package to overhaul Europe’s air transport industry.

In a detailed submission to the Commission, the airline advocates a policy which actively facilitates competition and consumer choice, addresses critical shortfalls in aviation infrastructure and eases restrictions on market access and investments by non-European airlines.

The carrier stated: “We welcome the opportunity to contribute to this important process, given our significant operations into Europe and our investments in a number of European carriers. We believe that this gives us a unique perspective on the current regulatory environment in Europe, as well as a sense of what needs to change in order to ensure a vibrant and competitive industry in the future.”

Etihad continued: “The Strategic Aviation Package proposed by the European Commission represents a significantá ‘window of opportunity’ to strengthen the European air transport sector as an economic and social enabler, and a key driver of growth, through bold, exciting and world-leading initiatives which improve the efficiency of the industry and increase global flight connectivity.”

In its submission, Etihad proposed nine principles for progress:

  • Put competition and consumers at the forefront of policy development.
  • Think globally, not locally.
  • Ensure that connectivity is at the heart of EU aviation and transport policy.
  • Support innovation in business models, and not artificially constrain them.
  • Promote transparency, efficiency and legal certainty in order to attract external investment.
  • Take a holistic approach to security.
  • Tackle regulatory obstacles and infrastructure inefficiencies, and fully reflect Better Regulation practices.
  • Encourage structural reforms in the air transport industry.
  • Promote open skies.

Etihad supported its submission with research from three global consultancies – Oxford Economics, Edgeworth Economics and The Risk Advisory Group.

James Hogan, president and CEO of Etihad, said: “Aviation in 2015 is global, not local. By taking a strategic and holistic approach to aviation policy-making, the European Commission can deliver meaningful change, not just for Europe, but also for the benefit of air travellers and the airline industry worldwide, just as the US did with its visionary Open Skies Policy.”

Etihad Airways has invested in five European airlines – Alitalia (49%), airberlin (29%), Air Serbia (49%), Aer Lingus (4.99%) and the Swiss regional operator Darwin Airline, which trades under the Etihad Regional brand (33%).

Hogan said: “The European Commission has declared that it wants to revive Europe as an economic powerhouse, and a hub for jobs, for growth and for investment. Air transport is essential for such a promising agenda and for international trade.”

And he continued: “Etihad Airways recognizes the enormous growth achieved by liberalisation of intra-European airline operations, and urges the European Commission to now be the catalyst for global air transport reforms by easing restrictions on non-European airline access to member states and global investment in airlines domiciled within the EU. Such liberalisation would align with the CommissionÆs commitment to adopt policies which create investment, employment and economic confidence, while also providing access to new sources of capital via international investment.”

Hogan concluded: “The Strategic Aviation Package clears the way for a new round of change, not just for aviation within Europe, but for European aviation in a global market. The European Commission has a rare and important opportunity to reset the agenda with bold, exciting and world-leading reforms, which increase competition, benefit consumers and drive economic growth.”

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