Change is needed from governments in Europe to improve competitiveness in the face of rivals in the rest of the world.
Airlines are calling for a “spirit of change” from governments in Europe to drive the social and economic benefits of air connectivity, enabling a more competitive air transport sector.
To fully realise air travel’s potential, “Europe must address deep-rooted issues that hamper the competitiveness of its aviation sector”, the International Air Transport Association declares on behalf of the airlines.
Chief among the concerns are heavy regulation, high taxes, inefficient air traffic management and a lack of sufficient infrastructure capacity, it adds.
The 8.5 million flights that touch Europe each year support 12.2 million jobs and $823 billion of European GDP, IATA stresses – and these benefits have the potential to increase, with the expected 50% growth in demand for air connectivity over the next two decades.
“In 2037, 1.9 billion passengers should be travelling to, from and within this continent. That growth will create jobs and drive a modern economy,” Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and chief executive, told the inaugural IATA Wings of Change Europe conference in Madrid this week.
“But these economic and societal benefits will only materialise if Europe provides a playing field on which its airline industry can be competitive. Governments must embrace a spirit of change in their policies and ambitions for aviation.”
He added: “If governments make the right decisions for aviation – effective regulations, fair taxes, efficient infrastructure – the competitiveness of the entire European economy will improve.”
IATA announced it is developing a “competitiveness toolkit” to give governments an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of their air connectivity.
The analysis will be updated regularly to enable stakeholders to measure progress. The first country report, for Spain, was published at the conference, with other European countries to follow in the coming weeks.
IATA identifies three key areas of action to enhance European competitiveness: improving air traffic management, enhancing aviation infrastructure and reducing the cost and regulatory burden.