New proposals on slots, noise and ground handling released today by the European Commission, the so-called ‘Airport Package’ contain some positive changes but have missed the opportunity to tackle the underlying problem of lack of capacity at European airports, says the European Regions Airline Association (ERA).
Mike Ambrose, Director General of ERA which represents more than 60 intra-European airlines, says: “No modification to the existing Regulations on slots, ground handling and noise will ever create the capacity that is required to stimulate economic recovery within Europe and provide the international market access to ensure Europe remains globally competitive.”
The Commission itself cannot compel States to implement new capacity at airports but it does have the ability to encourage and facilitate capacity development at an EU level and such initiatives would certainly be supported by the industry.
On a positive note, the Association welcomes the opening up of the ground handling market. It is evident that the Commission has listened to the industry’s concerns and the introduction of greater competition in this area is greatly welcomed. However care must be taken to ensure that the benefits the Commission proposes are not eroded by additional new administrative burdens.
However, stronger recognition by the Commission of the value of air transport and its ability to drive economic growth and development could have been evidenced by the introduction of measures that would increase long-term airport capacity in Europe and enable air transport to provide the much-needed stimulus to economic growth that is so desperately needed.
“At a time when the economic outlook is bleak to say the least, it is difficult to see how these measures contribute to solving the underlying issues which Europe faces at this time” said Ambrose.